U professor receives award in agriculture

by Andy Skemp

Baked, basted or broiled, the massive quantity of flightless fowl that makes its way onto the counter tops of delicatessens, restaurants and kitchens in Minnesota owes much of its abundance to Ben Pomeroy.
On July 7, Pomeroy will be honored for his work in the area of poultry disease that helped revolutionize the business. He will be one of the three recipients of the Siehl prize, an award is given out by the University’s College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences.
“Dr. Pomeroy’s impressive contribution to the field of agriculture and the livestock industry is one that clearly deserves recognition,” said Philip Larson, interim dean of the college.
In 1998, Minnesota was named the nation’s number-one turkey producer. Pomeroy, a native of St. Paul who received his doctorate from the University’s division of veterinary medicine in 1944, remembers when Minnesota’s poultry business was a far cry from what it is today.
“In the 1930s, the industry was much more limited,” Pomeroy said. “Farms averaged only 30 to 40 birds.”
After his graduate work, the now-retired Pomeroy continued as a professor at the University, working with more than 70 graduate students doing their theses in the area of avian disease.
The Siehl award includes $50,000, given out every other year to three recipients, one for contributing to the field of agriculture in academics, one in agribusiness and one in production agriculture. Pomeroy is receiving the award for academic achievement.
Pomeroy is not the only one of this year’s recipients involved in the bird business. Earl B. Olson, the founder of Jenny-O Foods, has been one of the major forces in turkey marketing.
Willis Antony is the recipient in the production agriculture category. Antony, now a full-time farmer, has been highly active in both the political and real-world application of agricultural research and principles.
Since 1980, when Antony stopped teaching for the University extension programs, he has become a successful farmer.
“This award provides people with an opportunity to be cognizant of the positive things happening in agriculture,” said Antony.