The American Farm Bureau Federation gave former Rep. Charlie Stenholm of Texas and Cecil Miller, a longtime Farm Bureau president in Arizona, its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award during its annual meeting. Stenholm, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee during consideration of the 2002 farm bill, has been actively involved in agriculture all his life. The Texas Farm Bureau nominated him for the award. The nomination cited Stenholm for “his expertise in agriculture, forged as a farmer, teacher and agricultural association executive, which was so broad and deep that he often counseled fellow members of the House on agricultural matters.” Stenholm was defeated in his bid for re-election to Congress in 2004.

A primary force in every farm bill since the late 1970s, Stenholm was one-half of a unique partnership with former Rep. Larry Combest, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the representative of a neighboring congressional district, during consideration of the 2002 farm bill.

“We thank Charlie Stenholm for his many efforts over the years to lead the charge in Congress on issues vital to the nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said fellow Texan and AFBF President Bob Stallman, citing Stenholm’s long record of legislative achievements spanning his 25-year career in the House.

Stenholm and his wife, Cindy, remain active in farm matters. He assists his son on the family’s cotton, wheat and cattle farm near Stamford, in western Texas, and works as a consultant on agricultural issues and other matters at Olsson, Frank and Weeda in Washington D.C.

Cecil Miller, also a past vice president of the American Farm Bureau, was commended by Stallman for his “strong leadership,” particularly on issues important to Arizona and the Southwest.

Miller’s lifelong involvement in agriculture includes raising cotton, cattle, grain and alfalfa and serving Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations in a variety of leadership capacities since the 1960s. For 20 years, he was the president of Arizona Farm Bureau, which nominated him for the award.

He became known for his knowledge of agricultural labor, trade, water and property rights issues. In the early 1970s, he led an agricultural coalition to craft Arizona’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act and defeat the United Farm Workers’ attempts to unionize.

Miller also has advised several Arizona governors on land and water use issues and other matters relating to agriculture. The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his involvement with that institution. Miller, today, is an investor and advisor in a farming venture with his son and daughter-in-law.

AFBF established the DSA to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving farming and ranching and who continue to show concern for the agricultural industry.