Friend of the Farmer looks back on career

Saturday, March 19, 2011

At the Ag Day breakfast last Saturday, Roger Bailey was named as the Putnam County Friend of the Farmer, but was unable to accept the award.

Bailey is currently vacationing in Okeechobee, Fla., following retirement Oct.1, 2010. Before his retirement Bailey, who has been in Putnam County for 31 years, was the county executive director for the Farm Service Agency.

"It's an honor to be given the award. It's kind of strange because I've been the one that has presented it for years," Bailey said.

At the award ceremony, Joe Mann, president of the Putnam County Farm Bureau, said the award ceremony was one of the things Bailey was involved in locally.

"I think everyone in here knows Roger," Mann said. "He headed up this portion of the program for a number of years for the Hall of Fame."

Before this year, Bailey was in charge of the two Ag Day, or Ag Week at the time, Hall of Fame awards, one for the Friend of the Farmer and one for the Farmer of the Year.

Bailey said his job at the Farm Service Agency would involve helping farmers navigate interacting with the government.

"We would administer federal farm programs, run conservation programs and price support programs," Bailey said.

Mann said Bailey was skilled in negotiating farmer-government relations.

"Roger was a great friend to farmers, helping them negotiate all the intricacies of working with federal government," Mann said.

Bailey said he "absolutely" enjoyed his job. He said that one portion of his time working in the county sticks out in particular -- a frustrating time in which he was glad to help people.

"Right about the time I came in the early 1980s when the interest rates were very high and a lot of farmers were struggling to stay in business and many had to quit farming because of financial problems. Just being able to help farmers stay in business during that time especially," Bailey said. "It was just a very difficult time in agriculture. That was probably the most satisfying to me to be able to help people be able to stay in business."

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