The name Orion Samuelson has been coupled with the title “the voice of agriculture” for the last 60 years. The winds are changing as Samuelson retired from WGN Radio out of Chicago, Illinois, in late 2020. He’s done his part advocating for the industry that feeds, fuels, and clothes the globe, and the torch is effectively getting passed to the next generation.
Halderman’s own Rick Johnloz, the area representative for northeast Indiana, recently heard the unmistakable voice of agriculture live and in person for the first time. Huntington University hosted their annual Harvest Celebration and Samuelson was their guest speaker.
“The university has been trying to get Orion to their event for the last seven or so years and the scheduling finally worked out for them,” Johnloz said. “Of course, being during harvest time they were a little concerned attendance would be low, but some last-minute rain brought in quite a few extra farmers for the event.”
Now in his upper 80s, Samuelson began his broadcasting career in the early 50s in his home state of Wisconsin. He’s the son of a dairyman but forged his own path in broadcasting and the agricultural industry is better for it.
“He’s a very positive influence for our industry. He’s been all over the world speaking for and about U.S. agriculture and he’s been a voice for farmers and ranchers,” Johnloz said of Samuelson’s speech at Huntington.
As each generation progressively moves away from agriculture, it’s imperative that the industry continues to advocate for itself. Samuelson implied that his retirement is a mark of passing the torch on to the next leaders of agriculture. Johnloz took the implication a step further and charged himself and his peers at Halderman with the responsibility of carrying on the agricultural advocacy movement Samuelson has championed for decades.
“I’ve always felt like part of our job as professional farm managers is to be a voice for agriculture also,” Johnloz said. “I’m on the Chamber of Commerce for Wells County as the agriculture representative and it’s still amazing to me that even people in our rural community don’t understand where their food comes from or what agriculture does for them.”
Johnloz realizes it’s a constant, progressive effort to keep the public up-to-speed on the impact agriculture has on their everyday lives.
“Listening to Orion was an encouragement to me and it made me feel like we’re all in this together,” Johnloz said. “Even though he’s a radio broadcaster and I’m a farm manager, we’re both out in the public and we both have a responsibility to communicate to people about where their food comes from and the value of farmers.”
As time continues to march on, the job as an advocate for an agriculturalist only gets harder. The weight of being a positive advocate and communicator should be felt by every individual in the industry. And that weight should be viewed as a responsibility as each voice in the industry is filling, and expanding on, the void that Samuelson is leaving behind.