Taylor McDonald

Mar 03, 2017  |  Today's News

IL Corn congratulates farmer Kent Kleinschmidt on his recognition as Master Farmer by Prairie Farmer! Kleinschmidt is one of just four individuals to receive the Master Farmer title in 2017.  The group will be honored for their exceptional agricultural production skills and community service at a ceremony in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday, March 15.

Award recipients are Allen Entwistle, Riverton; Tracy Jones, Kirkland, Kent Kleinschmidt, Emden; and Joel Kooistra, Woodstock. Look for profiles of each winner in the March 2017 Prairie Farmer and online (

Candidates are nominated by farmers, agribusiness leaders and farm organizations from throughout the state. Judges for the awards were Gary Ash, 1st Farm Credit Services; Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics; Bill Christ, 2015 Master Farmer; Ed McMillan, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman; Steve Myers, Busey Ag Services; and Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer editor.

“It’s become a Hall of Achievement for Illinois farmers like no other, because it’s honored farmers who seem to do it all: combining top agricultural production skills with community service, grassroots achievement and dedication to their families,” said Spangler. “They are the folks who make our rural communities tick.”

Some Master Farmers serve in state and national farm leadership positions. Others chair prestigious boards or serve with honor at the highest levels of government. Still others build their farms or businesses to regional or national prominence.

However, the vast majority merely serves their communities – building churches, chairing little-known but important committees, organizing harvest for a stricken neighbor – and continuing the service-minded commitment that earned them the Master Farmer distinction in the first place.

Kleinschmidt is more than deserving of this considerable honor and his commitment to farming is undeniable. He has represented Illinois’ corn farmers for decades. Not only did was he the District 8 Director for the Illinois Corn Growers Association and later the District 8 Director for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, he also served as ICGA President and as ICMB Chairman.  Additionally, Kleinschmidt for three decades sustained the farming operation that his grandfather began, which gave him the opportunity to pass the legacy on to his son. More than that, he is a steward to other farmers, the environment, and to those in his community. We are incredibly proud to agree that Kent Kleinschmidt is indeed a Master Farmer.

We will the feature from Prairie Farmer below speak for itself.


You can count on Kent Kleinschmidt. On the farm, in the statehouse, at a meeting, as a leader, in his community. Over and over, those were the words of the people who know him best, and qualities that helped earn him the 2017 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer award.

Kent graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1974 and soon married his high school sweetheart, Sara, herself a farm girl. “I grew up on a farm. It’s all I’ve ever known and all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Kent says. “There was no question to do something else.”

The farm has grown from 175 acres to nearly 1,300 acres, spread out 20 miles east to west and 6 miles north to south. Geographic distance and soil type variety spread his risk and help him manage his least favorite part of farming: uncertainty.

Kent sells seed for Burrus Hybrids, and he custom plants and harvests for neighbors to spread equipment costs over additional acres. He raises seed beans and some non-GMO beans. He and his father were early soil conservationists, testing out ridge till and ultimately settling into a combination of strip till for corn and no-till for soybeans. Some of his farms haven’t seen a tillage tool since the 1980s.

He soil tests and applies fertilizer based on crop removal, and he’s built waterway structures, filter strips and three different types of terraces. He’s also begun testing cover crops, and runs a 20-head cow-calf herd.

Kent has been president of Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Corn Marketing Board, founded Tazewell County Corn Growers Association 27 years ago, participated in international trade missions and served as the first co-chair of the Commodity Classic. He’s donated more than 10,000 pounds of sweet corn to the Peoria Area Food Bank and hosted key legislative leaders on his farm. He also serves Zion Lutheran Church, Lincoln.

Says Wapella farmer Vic Riddle, “In any discussion, Kent is asked for his opinion because it was always valued. There is no doubt that Illinois agriculture is a lot better today because of Kent’s long-time service and commitment.”

For more information, contact:

Kent and Sara Kleinschmidt

217-376-3361 (home)

217-828-0213 (cell)