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Metamora’s Hodel Among Winners Of Illinois Master Farmer Awards

Soybean Plants Blossom
Keith Srakocic/AP
/
AP
In this photo taken on Saturday, July 28, 2018, a soybean crop grows on a farm in Renfrew, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A veteran farmer from Woodford County is one of this year's Illinois Master Farmers.

Kent Hodel has a 1,200-acre farm near Metamora where he raises corn, soybeans, hay, and sheep. He found out in June that he was among the three people chosen as recipients of Prairie Farmer magazine’s Master Farmer awards for 2021.

Kent Hodel.jpg
Kent Hodel

“This honor means a lot because it is nominated by a farmer and supported by farmers. So it's supported by our peers,” said Hodel.

Hodel said he started farming right out of high school and eventually partnered with his father Harold in the business, starting out with 240 acres.

“We produced eggs for resale and we had 14,000 chickens that we processed eggs from every day,” he said. “We did that for about 25 years, and then I went and worked for the Illinois Soybean Association for 20-some years, and I always farmed along the whole way. Then I retired from both of those jobs and just kept back here on the farm.”

After farming for 50 years, Hodel said he’s ready to ease back a bit and let his son Eric assume more control of the operation.

“I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I've enjoyed it all my life,” said Hodel. “But there comes a time that you don't want to make all the decisions, and there's a lot of decisions to be made — marketing crops, and what to plant, when and where and how and what. I've kind of turned that over to him and I'm just enjoying it a little more.”

Hodel said he anticipates a rebound in the farming industry after challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Farming has been struggling the last three or four years, but this year looks like it's going to be a real good year,” he said. “I’ve farmed for years, and I know that it will go up, it'll come down. It will vary and you just learn to live with that.”

Joining Hodel as this year’s winners are Kenny Hartman of Waterloo and Paul Taylor of Esmond. The awards will be presented Thursday afternoon during the Prairie Farmer ceremony at this week’s 2021 Farm Progress Show in Decatur.

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