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This Year's Tri-County Agribusiness Awards Were A Damn Travesty

As you no doubt know, this past Monday night was the Tri-County Agribusiness Awards, the gala annual event honoring the best in agriculture sales and marketing in the tri-county area. As is the case every year, I was really excited to watch the show. But after seeing who took home the coveted Aggys this year, I swear, I'm never watching again. The 1999 Tri-County Agribusiness Awards were nothing but a damn travesty!

The night started out promising enough. I threw a special Aggy party, inviting all of my friends out to my house on State Road HH to watch the show live on community-access Channel 6. Everything looked great: The famous Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Round Barn was decked out in red-white-and-blue banners; the Pawhuska High School marching band kicked off the festivities with a rousing medley of songs from Oklahoma!; and the audience was filled with everyone who's anyone in agribusiness in Nowata, Washington and Osage counties. It would have been a truly magical evening—that is, if a certain panel of judges hadn't had their heads up their asses.

Right from the get-go, I knew it was going to be a long night of injustice. The first Aggy was for Best Work In A Crop Revenue Insurance Program. Clearly, Thomas "Red" Potter deserved to win that one. But for some reason, they gave it to Bob Urbanowicz. What a crock! Urbanowicz couldn't insure against a drought if the ground were cracking right in front of him! Unfortunately, things only got worse.

The next Aggy was for Excellence In Agribusiness Education. Did they give it to the clearly deserving Bill Molport? Of course not! Instead, they gave it to Gene Schuba! I tell you, they may as well have randomly handed out Aggys to whoever asked for one. Why not say to hell with everything and give one to Buck Logan for that disastrous attempt to grow niche-market vegetables for export to foreign markets?

To make matters worse, they replaced the Aggys' usual host, the delightful Reba Wilkins of the popular TV show Agriculture A.M., with Roy Gramby, the annoying, nasal-voiced editor of Seed World magazine. You should've seen the gaudy silver buckles on the overalls he was wearing! And his opening comedy bit about overfertilization went over about as big as Ike Elson's '98 corn crop.

Then, after making us sit through an endless string of boring, piddly awards like Best Assistance In Irrigation and Outstanding Achievement In Feed & Grain Quality Control, came the last straw.

You see, this year, we had a little pool going among the 4H advisors as to who'd go home with The Big One: the prized Aggy for Best Private-Sector Genetic Research. I was sure it was going to be James Citarella for his work on insecticide-resistant crop strains. Citarella is the master and always has been. He set the standard for winter-wheat varieties but has been unfairly overlooked by the judges three years in a row.

There was the dark horse, Ellen Reichert, and her enhanced-property soybean. I'd call it an interesting little independent project, but far from Aggy material. Our loud-mouth 4H group leader, Jesse Walker, bet six jars of elderberry preserves that the award would go to that jerk Ed Pfloeg, who was nominated for his lucrative marketing of soybean nutraceuticals.

And who do you think won? Fucking Pfloeg! What a joke! Sure, his project brought in big bucks, but is that what the Aggy Awards are supposed to be about? Pfloeg has only been working in the field for five years, while Citarella has had a lifetime of agribusiness achievement behind him!

I remember when the Aggys used to be about the farming. Who can forget that moment in 1981 when Warren Messerschmidt raised his Farm Management Aggy above his head and shouted, "This is for all of you who ride the threshers every day!" Now it's all just a big, glossy show to hype whatever is the hot new ag-biz ticket.

It's a goddamn travesty, I tell you. In 20 years, when people look back at the '99 Aggy winners, what will they think? Will anyone even remember who Lyle Murcheson is? No, but that no-talent hack's name will be listed in the Tri-County Farmers Almanac under Best Agribusiness Distribution. Christ, what a crock of shit. I swear, next year, I'm not watching.

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