The Harvest Bowl award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of agriculture and business in North Dakota and beyond. Also honored will be outstanding agriculturists from all counties across North Dakota and 10 in western Minnesota, and scholarships were awarded to outstanding male and female NDSU athletes.
Johnson, an Almont, N.D., native, graduated from NDSU in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. After graduating from NDSU, he joined Dakota Farmer Magazine, where he eventually became advertising manager. He then joined the Midwest Unit Farm Publications of Hartsdale, N.Y., as eastern manager.
In 1981, he was promoted to national sales manager of Farm Progress Cos. and eventually became president. During his tenure as president, Farm Progress became the leading agricultural media company in the U.S. by growing from seven to 39 publications.
In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Johnson USDA Rural Development legislative and public affairs director. Two years later, he was appointed deputy undersecretary for Rural Development. His task was to carry out Rural Development’s mission to support economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural America. He retired from the USDA in 2009.
Currently, Johnson and his wife, Sara, own Agri-Pulse Communications, which is an electronic publishing firm serving agriculture and rural policy leaders. Johnson still owns his family’s century farm near Almont. He lives with his wife and two sons in Camdenton, Mo.
Johnson also held numerous leadership positions, including chair of the Farm Foundation board of trustees, president of the Equipment Manufacturers Institute Suppliers Council, chair of the FFA Foundation Sponsors Board, president of the Agricultural Publishers Association and grand president of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.
He was named Ag Communicator of the Year by the National AgriMarketing Association. In addition, the National FFA Organization presented him with an Honorary American Farm Degree and Distinguished Service Citation. Ed Schafer, former agriculture secretary, awarded Johnson the Group Honor Award for Excellence to recognize him for his leadership in producing the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference. The conference was the largest renewable energy conference in history and attracted official delegations from more than 100 countries.
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