The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, to Ambassador Richard T. Crowder, former U.S. chief agricultural trade negotiator and professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 

The award was announced during the AFBF 94th Annual Meeting, held Jan. 13 to 16, 2013, in Nashville.

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

“Dr. Crowder is a true ambassador of agriculture, having worked to better opportunities for farmers and ranchers in trade, biotechnology, and marketing agriculture products,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “I am honored to have worked alongside him while he served at [the Office of the United States Trade Representative], where his work on trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, as well as Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization, has helped ensure better market access for farmers and ranchers.”

With more than 40 years of experience in the agriculture and food sector, Crowder has dedicated his career to advancing the farming and ranching industry.

He served as the U.S. chief agriculture negotiator from January 2006 to May 2007, with the rank of ambassador, and as a senior advisor to the United States trade representative from May 2007 to April 2008. In this position, Crowder was responsible for directing all U.S. agricultural negotiations worldwide. For this service, he received the Distinguished Service Award by the United States trade representative, Executive Office of the President.

Crowder began his professional career as a staff economist for Exxon, then held executive positions with Wilson & Company, Pillsbury, Armour Swift Eckrich, and DEKALB Genetics.

In 1989, Crowder became undersecretary of international affairs and commodity programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this position, he managed the 1990 Farm Bill, was the U.S. agriculture negotiator for the Uruguay Round, and headed two presidential missions to the former Soviet Union to address food needs and policies of the former Soviet republics. He received two additional presidential appointments to serve on the board of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation and the Rural Telephone Bank.

In 2002, he was named chief executive officer of the American Seed Trade Association.

Crowder, who was nominated by the Illinois Farm Bureau, serves on the board of directors of Neogen Corporation and Smithfield Foods. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Farm Foundation.

At Virginia Tech, Crowder worked with other alumni in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to create a scholarship to honor his mentor, Professor W.L. “Hoot” Gibson Jr., that provides five scholarships a year. He also endowed the George T. and Estelle M. Crowder Scholarship in memory of his parents.

Crowder received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and his doctorate from Oklahoma State University. He was one of 100 alumni selected as a Virginia Tech Alumnus of the Millennium 2000.



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