Oklahoma Farm Bureau honored two leaders during its 67th annual meeting in Oklahoma City with Distinguished Service Awards.
The pair of awards is designed to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to agriculture and to Oklahoma Farm Bureau, according to Matt Wilson, executive director.
Payne County’s Dr. Michael R. Dicks and Woodward County’s Eldon Merklin were honored Nov. 14 during a special evening award’s program in the Cox Convention Center.
Dicks was presented with the Distinguished Service to Oklahoma Agriculture Award while Merklin received the Distinguished Service to Oklahoma Farm Bureau Award.
Dicks, 55, of Stillwater, has served agriculture for more than 40 years as an educator and producer on the state, national and international levels.
He has served on the faculty of Oklahoma State University since 1989, and currently is a professor of agricultural economics. Before coming to OSU, he was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
Dicks was involved with fruit and vegetable production as well as sheep and cattle production in California from 1966 to 1971, and has continued to pursue his agricultural interests with wheat and cattle enterprises since relocating to Oklahoma.
After earning his undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University, he served three years in the Peace Corps in Kenya. He has served on the Southern Agricultural Economics Association and has been an advisor to an Oklahoma U.S. Senator and three of the state’s U.S. House members.
During his career as an educator, he has been honored by Gamma Sigma Delta, the Southern Agricultural Economics Association and Oklahoma State’s Aggie-X with its outstanding advisor award.
Dicks has made significant contributions to agriculture in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada as well as in America where he has worked extensively in the Southern and Great Plains as well as Oklahoma and Payne County.
Internationally, he has conducted analysis for trade negotiations as well as development assistance and policy development. Nationally, Dicks has provided agriculture and natural resource policy analysis and development. Locally, he has worked to develop profit maximizing farming techniques, practices and price and cost determination.
He is widely recognized for his development of the Conservation Reserve Program and most of the rules and regulations for the first conservation title in the Food Security Act of 1985.
Congress and USDA called upon Dicks in 1981, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2002 and 2008 to analyze options for the development of federal farm legislation.
Dicks and his wife, Ellen, reside in Stillwater. He serves as chairman of the Payne County Farm Bureau FB Act Committee.
Merklin, 65, is a lifetime resident of Woodward County. He attended Oklahoma State University before returning to Woodward County to pursue a full time career in agriculture. He lives near Mutual where he grows wheat and alfalfa and runs stockers along with a cow-calf herd.
He has devoted more than 35 years of his life to Farm Bureau, where he has served his county, state and nation as a leader of the farm organization.
Merklin became active in Farm Bureau and was elected to the Woodward County board. He was elected to the OFB board of directors in 1975 as the district one director, where he represented members from the northwest part of the state.
During his tenure on the state board, he served as vice president for five consecutive terms from 1988 to 1993 as well as holding the same office from 1977 to 1985.
Merklin held the district director’s office until being elected OFB president in 1993, becoming only the fifth person to hold that position since the farm organization was chartered in 1942.
Under Merklin’s leadership, OFB grew and became financially stronger. Also, during his tenure as president a computer networking system was established to connect every county office with the OFB state headquarters office. In addition, a statewide advertising campaign for OFB was initiated.
Merklin was elected to the board of directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation in 1995 and served through 1997, when he opted not to see re-election to the OFB president’s office.
In addition to his service to Farm Bureau, Merklin served on the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. He was appointed to that board by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in 1986, and then re-appointed to a three-year term in 1987.
Merklin was elected as the first chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council in 1990, where he served a one-year term. He was re-elected chairman in 1991, and was named to a three-year term by Farm Bureau to represent it on the Beef Council.
The Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore appointed Merklin to the Advisory Task Force on the Sale of School Land in 1990.
Merklin also has served on the Woodward County Farmers Home Administration Committee and the Woodward Hospital Foundation board of directors. He also has served on the FFA Foundation along with the Woodward Hospital Board and the Woodward United Methodist Church administrative council.
Merklin and his wife of 44 years, Janet, have two adult children.