A lifetime of dedication to Iowa agriculture and unparalleled achievement and promotion of farming has earned two families the 2017 Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.  Bill Merschman of West Point and John and Connie Greig of Estherville were recognized with the prestigious honor during the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Annual Meeting in Des Moines, Dec. 5-6. 

With the planting of 20 acres of certified oats in 1954, Bill and Bernice Merschman officially started their seed business, known today as Merschman Seeds.  Two years later in 1956, the Merschmans planted the first 40-acre field of certified soybean seed in Lee County.  Today, the company grows, conditions, and distributes soybean, corn, wheat, and alfalfa seed through their local Merschman dealers located in nine midwestern and southern states. 

As production agriculture has evolved over the years, so has Merschman’s seed company.  In the 1960s, the company’s growing business expanded to include liquid fertilizer, and in the 1980s, additional warehouse space was added, which allowed the company to double its bagged seed capacity.  Merschman Seeds is nationally recognized for being on the cutting edge of technology, offering their customers the latest biotechnology traits to combat threats to plant growth as they help farmers maximize their yearly crop production. 

Today, Merschman Seeds employs 45 full-and part-time employees responsible for seed distribution covering a 400-mile radius from West Point.  Merschman Seeds’ operation includes additional farmer services including fertilizer, trucking, and soybean breeding.  The company is recognized as one of the larger employers in Lee County.  In addition to his business success, Merschman is celebrated as a strong advocate for farmers and is recognized for his legacy of community leadership and philanthropy.  

John and Connie Greig of Estherville have been role models for young and beginning farmers in Emmet County for several decades, and the couple have played an important role in the local business community.  The Greigs are well known and highly respected in the community for their years of raising cattle and growing row crops, as well as owning a local implement dealership and bank.  John is also known for serving six years in the Iowa State Legislature as a member of the House of Representatives from 1993-1998 where he sat on numerous influential committees. 

John served 40 years as president of Greig & Co., Inc., a family farming entity founded in Emmet County in 1949.  With John at the helm, the family farm grew to a 3,000-head custom feeding operation with 2,000 acres of row crops.  Connie owned Little Acorn Ranch, a 200-head Simmental seed stock operation she founded in 1968.

While both have retired from active involvement in their operations, the couple still closely follow Iowa agriculture and the livestock industry.  John is currently part owner of ICON Ag & Turf, a well-known John Deere dealership with locations in northwest Iowa.  He also serves as chairman of the board for North Star Bank of Iowa. 

The Greigs are best known for their leadership roles in the cattle and beef industry.  John is a past president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and served on the Executive Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Association.  Connie has served as the Iowa Beef Improvement Association president and chaired numerous animal health and advisory committees.  Additionally, the Greigs have been recognized by several organizations for their environmental stewardship and conservation efforts. 

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the agricultural industry at the local, state and/or national level.  This is the 39th year for the service award.  The two winners received plaques honoring their achievements and will be added to a permanent display at the IFBF headquarters in West Des Moines.