The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum are expanding their annual awards to honor excellence in agriculture.

In addition to adult and youth categories, this year the Excellence in Agriculture Award will include a legacy category.

For some previous nominations, the Expo board felt the people or businesses should be recognized for their impact and contributions over a longer period of time, said Dick Hatterman, chairman of the award committee.

“It’s for somebody who has contributed over a lifetime, 20 years, 30 years, to the ag industry,” Hatterman said.

“The importance of the award is to recognize people and organizations that have contributed to the success of the industry,” Hatterman said. “The industry has its ups and downs, but it’s the people and organizations that continually put out effort who make sure it keeps moving forward.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the opening session of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Convention Center’s Lower Level Ballroom. This is the fourth year the awards are being presented.

Hatterman said the committee is always pleased and excited to see which nominations come in.

Last year, the Expo honored Shepherd’s Grain, a farmer-run business, and the LaCrosse, Wash., FFA marketing team, comprised of students Jason Wigen, Abigail McGregor and Britte Harder. Wigen is now a student at Washington State University majoring in crop science. McGregor and Harder will graduate this year.

“It was just a wonderful experience, having your peers acknowledge that you’ve accomplished something, in their view,” said Shepherd’s Grain co-founder Fred Fleming, who accepted the award. “For me, it really was a humbling experience to have that sort of recognition. It’s one of those things that someone said, ‘Thank you.’ It was a real gift.”

The students’ marketing plan for Dixon Land and Livestock in Pomeroy, Wash., won first place at the FFA national convention in 2015.

Lacrosse FFA adviser Lisa Baser liked that the award isn’t specific to FFA members.

“It’s a regional award that any kid could have been eligible for,” she said. “It’s great that the AgriBusiness Council does that, especially because a lot of these kids will pursue a future in agriculture.”

Hatterman asks industry members to be thinking about possible nominations in the future.

“It’s important to have people involved and help leading the charge, and consequently it’s important to recognize those people who are helping the ag industry,” he said.

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