March 1, 2020

Contact: Hannah Packman, 202-554-1600
[email protected]

SAVANNAH – Family farm agriculture endures as the backbone of a safe and secure national food system because of the tireless advocacy and hard work of men and women across the industry. National Farmers Union (NFU) today presented its highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award, to two of these individuals at the organization’s 118th Anniversary Convention.

NFU presented Dr. Neil E. Harl of Iowa and Dennis Sjodin of Minnesota with the Meritorious Service Award to Farmers Union and to American Agriculture.

“Both Dr. Harl and Dennis Sjodin spent their careers and lives bettering life for American farm and ranch families and their communities,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “It is important to celebrate champions for family farmers and rural communities and to honor these men in particular for their service. I am proud to recognize their contributions with our organization’s highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award.”

Harl and Sjodin join past recipients of the Meritorious Service Award, including former Members of Congress and a former United States President, who have made particularly noteworthy contributions to family agriculture, humanity, and Farmers Union at the state and national levels.

A list of past recipients can be found here.

About the Recipients

Dr. Neil E. Harl 

Dr. Harl, a nationally recognized expert of tax, credit, and finance issues, is the Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences and Emeritus Professor of Economics at Iowa State University. He received both a Bachelor of Science and a PhD in economics from the institution, before joining the staff in 1964. During his time there, he worked in research, graduate and undergraduate teaching, and extension.

Dr. Harl’s many areas of expertise include organization of the farm firm, taxation, estate planning and legal and economic aspects of farm finance. He has authored or co-authored more than 450 articles in legal and economic journals and bulletins and more than a thousand articles in various farm and financial publications. In all, Dr. Harl has published 30 books, and another is expected to be published in 2020. With more than 3,400 speaking appearances in 43 states and 17 foreign countries, he has spoken widely on income tax, estate planning, debtor-creditor relations and organization of the farm business.

He has received more than 30 major awards including the Charles A. Black Award from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology in 1997 for effectiveness in communicating with the public and the Award for Distinguished Service to American and World Agriculture, by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, in 2006. He has also served as President of the American Agricultural Economics Association and President of the American Agricultural Economics Foundation.

Dennis Sjodin 

Dennis Sjodin began working for Minnesota Farmers Union in 1966. During his 40-plus years with the organization, he served in many different roles, including field representative, director of program development, head of the Green View Program, director of the Joint MFU-NFO Livestock Marketing Program, and assistant to the MFU President under Cy Carpenter.

Sjodin served as MFU’s vice president for 13 years, from 1996-2009. He also briefly held the position of acting MFU president in 1984, after Carpenter became National Farmers Union President and before incoming MFU president Willis Eken was finished with his duties as Majority Leader in the Minnesota State House of Representatives.


Stay Connected
Follow along with NFU’s 118th Anniversary Convention using the hashtag #NFU2020, and follow NFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Download the NFU Convention app here for more information, and view photos here.

About NFU
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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