Editor’s Note: The Michigan Farm News will publish subsequent articles on the five farming families who will be honored Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Michigan Farmers’ Hall of Farm ceremony.
Inductees of the 2019 Michigan Farmers’ Hall of Fame will be honored at Marshall’s Calhoun County Fair’s Belcher Building 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.
This year, five families will receive this high honor among their peers: Elgin and Joanne Darling of Willis in Monroe County; Dale and Sara Stuby of Centreville in St. Joseph County; Jan and Nellie Vosburg of Climax in Kalamazoo County; Norman "Norm" Veliquette of Elk Rapids in Antrim County; and Wayne H. Wood of Marlette in Sanilac County.
To be considered as an inductee, the individual must farm for at least 20 years, be at least 60 years old, be actively involved in his or her respective community and be someone who has contributed to the advancement of agriculture.
The general public is invited to attend the special ceremony to celebrate the vital importance of agriculture. It’s also an opportunity for the public to acknowledge and honor these five outstanding and hard-working farmers and their families.
Wayne Wood’s spent more than 60 years farming dairy, beef and crops.
What began with showing a dairy heifer at the county fair soon developed into a life-long passion for farming.
In 1963, Wayne formed a partnership with his father, Harold J. Wood. They milked 18 cows and farmed 320 acres while Wayne also worked at the local mobile home factory with a dream of buying his own dairy farm.
In 1976, his brother, Randy, joined the team to form HWR Farms. The family enterprise soon grew to 320 cows. Harold passed away in 2005, and in his honor, the sons continue to operate HWR Farms which has expanded to include Wayne's son (Mark) and Randy's son (Greg) into the operation of what is now a three-generation farming family with 800 steers and 1,800 acres.
Wayne was appointed by Gov. Engler to chair the Michigan Agriculture Preservation Board, and then by Gov. Granholm to the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, where he was the sole representative of the agricultural community. She later appointed him to her Michigan Food Policy Council.
Other community involvements for Wayne include working with the Sanilac County Mental Health Board, Sanilac County Planning Commission, Marlette Masonic Lodge, Sanilac Intermediate School District, Advisory Committee, 4-H Dairy Leader and dairy superintendent at the Sanilac County Fair.
Wayne’s received numerous honors and awards over the years including being inducted into the 4-H Emerald Society, an honorary state degree from the Future Farmers of America, an honorary national degree from the National Future Farmers, an honoree by the Dairy Memorial Scholarship Foundation and a Distinguished Service Award from Michigan State University.
Wayne's greatest commitment has been to the Farm Bureau, where he started in 1970 as a member of the Young Farmer Committee and president of the county organization in 1978.
As a Young Farmer Representative, he was involved with the passage of PA116 — a program that allows Michigan farmers to more easily compete with other states which have lower property tax rates than Michigan.
In 1983, he was elected to the Michigan Farm Bureau Board of Directors as a director-at-large. In 1986, Wayne became vice president and then president of the Farm Bureau in 2000. He served in that role until 2014.
Later, Wayne witnessed Gov. Snyder sign legislation that created the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assistance Program (MAEAP). Wayne was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Agriculture from Michigan State University in 2015.
Wayne Wood's parents, Harold and Beryl Wood, were inducted into the Michigan Farmers' Hall of Fame in August of 1995.