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Governor’s awards for excellence in ag awarded to six Idahoans

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

BOISE – Six Idahoans received governor’s awards for excellence Feb. 21 during the 28th Annual Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit.

The summit attracts a couple hundred farmers, ranchers and others involved in all aspects of the state’s agricultural industry.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Agriculture recognize people for their contributions to Idaho’s agricultural industry. Videos highlighting those contributions were shown before the awards were presented.

“As you can tell from the videos, these are quality Idahoans,” said Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke, a rancher and farmer from Oakley who presented the awards.

Gov. Brad Little, a rancher from Emmett, has called the award recipients the “heart and soul of Idaho.”

Lifetime Achievement

Scott Brown, a fourth-generation wheat, barley and mustard farmer from Caribou County, received a Lifetime Achievement award, which, according to the award criteria, is given to an individual who has dedicated their life to advancing agriculture and “who embodies the high standards of Idaho agriculture and sets an example for others to follow.”

Brown, who farms more than 11,000 acres with his nephew and son-in-law outside of Soda Springs, “is passionate about agriculture and has served in various state and national leadership capacities,” according to his award bio.

He has also represented U.S. wheat and barley growers on several trade missions.

“Scott is a hard-working, outstanding farmer who has stepped up and led organizations with knowledge, skill and passion,” his award bio states.

Brown has also mentored countless other growers and has been instrumental in developing young growers for leadership positions, according to the bio.

“Scott can bring people together during difficult times and be an articulate spokesman for the industry with fellow farmers, the media, as well as congressional offices,” his award bio states. “He has a gifted way of providing relevant, relatable information that has substantial positive impact.”

Technical Innovation

Darin Moon, CEO of Redox Chemicals, received a Technical Innovation award, which is given to an individual or business that develops or implements new methods to advance agricultural production or processing.

Established in 1994 by Moon, the company has become a leading international, Idaho-based agribusiness.

According to Moon’s award bio, “The core values of Redox are to be passionately authentic, creatively driven and scientifically knowledgeable.”

The bio says Redox products “are designed for farmers and advanced by science….”

Redox maintains a 5-acre test farm at the company’s headquarters in Burley, where the company maintains tree fruit, has annual crop plots and an area for work on turf. The test farm also has a greenhouse for year-round work.

Moon received a degree in soil science and agronomy from Utah State University.

“Darin is very scientific and creative and uses this combination of skills and practical knowledge to develop patented products that have improved global ag production,” his award bio states.

Marketing Innovation

Jim and Hillary Lowe, owners of Lowe Family Farmstead in Kuna, received an award for marketing innovation.

This award is given to a grower, processor or commodity group “that demonstrates excellence and effectiveness of individual programs conducted in an effort to develop or increase sales of Idaho food or agriculture products, internationally or domestically.”

The Lowes use their agritourism business to educate people about agriculture and “continually strive to narrow the gap between rural agriculture and urban life,” their award bio states.

At the Farmstead, according to the bio, “every visitor comes face-to-face with education and facts about agriculture, animals and crops at every turn. Signs, themes, information and hands-on experiences entice guests to spend multiple hours each visit at the farm.”

According to their award bio, “Jim and Hillary work hard to bridge the gap between the nostalgic farm life of one’s childhood and the modern industry of agriculture … The Lowes have used their own ingenuity to market agriculture and to encourage the general public to use all five senses to experience agriculture up-close and personal.”

Environmental Stewardship

Justin Place, who farms with his father in the Mud Lake/Hamer area of East Idaho, received an Environmental Stewardship award, which is given to someone who demonstrates a commitment to maintain and improve the quality of air, water or soil as a result of innovative practices or technologies.

The Place farm, which produces grain, alfalfa and mustard, utilizes minimal tillage.

“This has been an excellent soil conservation method as the area experiences extremely high winds and low water levels,” Place’s award bio states.

He networks with farmer friends in Texas and other areas with water shortages that are more prevalent than they are in East Idaho.

“He adapts their successful practices to help tame his own sandstorms to improve his crop production and soil health,” Place’s award bio states … “Justin is a strong advocate for responsible production agriculture and education. He is what the American farmer of the future needs to be to continue farming.”


Susi Larrocea was presented with an Education/Advocacy award, which is given to someone who is committed to educating Idahoans about how important the state’s agricultural industry is to their life and the economy.

“Susi Larrocea is a true advocate for agriculture as demonstrated by her lifelong commitment to educating youth and their families throughout Ada County through 4-H and FFA leadership and volunteerism,” her award bio states.

Susi and her husband, Flip, are actively involved in the Phillips Brothers Cattle Co., a family operation in Star that includes cow-calf production and a feedlot, along with diversified crop farming.

Larrocea led the Crafty Critters 4-H Club for more than 20 years and “mentoring students is one of Susi’s strongest attributes,” her award bio states … “She encouraged all young 4-H members to expand their agriculture education by enrolling in local FFA programs when they reached high school age.”

She helped develop the Meridian FFA Alumni Chapter and start a community FFA auction that generates several thousand dollars each year for scholarships.

“Susi Larrocea possesses talents and skills that help define Idaho agriculture,” her award bio states. “She has become a reliable source of value information to her profession and the industry of agriculture.”

Pat Takasugi Leadership Award

During the Ag Summit, Mike Gooding, who grows hops in the Parma area, was presented with the Pat Takasugi Leadership Award, which is named after the late director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and given to someone who has shown strong leadership for Idaho agriculture.

Gooding, a fifth-generation hop farmer, has served as a member and past president of the National Hop Growers Association as well as the national Hop Research Council.

He is also a charter member of the Hop Industry Plant Protection Committee and served for 37 years as a member of the Idaho Hop Commission, including 15 years as chairman.

“Mike has been a significant force in the establishment and growth of the Idaho hop industry over the last 40 years,” said retired bean industry representative Don Tolmie, who presented Gooding with the award.

He has also grown onions, beans, sweet corn seed and cereal grains in Idaho and is a past member of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee.

“It’s a real pleasure to see someone who has devoted their entire life to agriculture be recognized,” Tolmie said.

Gooding credited his family and employees for allowing him to be heavily involved with the ag industry.

“Without them, I would never have been able to take the time to be involved in the industry as I have been,” he said.