The New Castle County Farm Bureau honored State Rep. Quinton Johnson with its 2019 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
Also honored will be NCCFB’s Farm Family of the Year, the William Walther family, for continuing the farming tradition despite pressure from development.
The Walther family is a testimony to the idea that farming is a family affair and a passion, said NCCFB President Stewart Ramsey in his presentation. Five generations in the Walther family have farmed in Bear.William “Bill” Walther has been on the family farm all his life.
The farm was purchased in 1876 by Bill’s grandfather. His son, William, took over from him, and then Bill took over on the passing of his father. Bill and his older sister, Sylvia,farmed together until she passed away in 2014.
They also farmedthree family members’ properties on Walther Road until they were sold. After that, the Walthers discontinued the dairybusiness and turned to beef cattle and produce.
About this time, Bill’s nephew, Wally Gott, and his sons, Fran and Matt, came on board to help with the operation.
About 10 years ago, Bill turned over the cattle and field crops operation to Wally and his oldest son.Bill continues to run the produce business.
The Walthers have been involved with 4-H since 1929 when the Bear 4-H Club was started. It still meets on the farm. Club founder Sylvia Walther, “a pillar in the 4-H community for 65 years,” was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame.
The Walthers have allowed 4-H members to house livestock projects on the farm and leases cattle to Bearclub members to work with and show.
“The Walthers have done more in teaching urban people about agriculture than just about anyone in the state,” said Bill Powers, Delaware Farm Bureau second vice president. “Most people don’t open their farms like that, and the family is still doing it.”
Powers introduced Johnson, recipient of the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. Johnson was elected in 2008 to the Delaware House of Representatives for the 8th District, which includes the greater Middletown area.
Johnson has sponsored or cosponsored more than 20 legislative actions that demonstrate his commitment to the county and state’s agricultural industries, a release stated.
Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Salisbury State University Perdue School of Business. A former farmer, Johnson and his wife, Julie, started Tender Loving Kare Child Care and Learning Center in 1994. They now have three locations.
County President Ramsey addressed the need to preserve farmland and the fact that a farmer often depends on the value of his or her land for retirement. Property value heavily depends on the ability to develop it, he said.
A moratorium on septic tanks being discussed in the county would “rob some farmers of their 401K,” he said. “We will do everything we can to make that not happen,” he added.
He noted that anotherchallenge comes with farm structures thatare being taxed 700 percent higher than in Sussex County. “This is something we have to get fixed,” he said. “If Farm Bureau cannot fight to the death on an issue this important, it shouldn’t be an entity.”
State Senators Dave Wilson and Stephanie Hansen, left, and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, Gov. John Carey and NCCFB President Stewart Ramsey, right, pose with Rep. Quinton Johnson, center, recipient of New Castle County Farm Bureau’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award at the organization’s annual banquet Oct. 14.