The American Farm Bureau Federation presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to former Sens. Mike Johanns and Saxby Chambliss during the 97th AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving agriculture.

For more than three decades, Johanns served America’s farmers and ranchers tirelessly as Nebraska governor, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and U.S. senator. Johanns’ unfailing dedication to the interests of farmers and ranchers has protected and enhanced the cause of agriculture across the country.

Johanns’ humble upbringing and work on a dairy farm in Iowa gave him solid training for serving others in his career. In his roles as secretary of agriculture and as senator, Johanns met with farmers and ranchers, listened to their concerns and put their input directly into developing the 2008 and 2014 farm bills. Johanns also stood up to regulatory overreach and promoted innovative solutions to reducing dependence on foreign oil. His commitment to opening the marketplace for U.S. agriculture helped expand trade and create a more level playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Senator Johanns’ humility, hard work and discipline, along with his genuine interest in hearing from and working with those he served, set him apart from many other politicians,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “He’s stood side-by-side with America’s farmers and ranchers, putting a stop to over-regulation and expanding market opportunities to keep the business of agriculture moving forward.”

Chambliss has time and again proven himself to be a true friend and champion of agriculture. As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he was a key author on four farm bills, crafting market-oriented programs and securing a valid safety net for farmers and ranchers through updated commodity titles and federal crop insurance.

Chambliss has been working closely with farmers since the early days of his career as a lawyer from Moultrie, GA. Those relationships gave him a deep appreciation for agriculture, and he kept the needs and interests of rural America at the forefront when he came to Capitol Hill. In addition to his critical efforts on farm bill programs, Chambliss worked to reform the nation’s immigration laws to provide a legal and stable workforce for agriculture, and served on key congressional committees dealing with national security and intelligence gathering.

“Saxby Chambliss has led the way on some of the most pressing and complex issues facing agriculture with his courage and straight talk,” Stallman said. “For 20 years, he was one of the best friends that farmers and ranchers had in Washington, DC”

The Nebraska Farm Bureau nominated Johanns to receive the DSA award; the Georgia Farm Bureau nominated Chambliss. A national Farm Bureau committee named them both as winners.