Three individuals responsible for making significant contributions to the past, present, and future of American agriculture: Barry Flinchbaugh, Junius Groves, and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, will be inducted into the National Agricultural Hall of Fame on October 5 at the National Agricultural Center in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
This Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made outstanding national or international contributions to the establishment, development, advancement, or improvement of American agriculture. Flinchbaugh, Groves and de Baca join a list of notables, including former Sen. Pat Roberts, Eli Whitney, George Washington Carver and John Deere.
Barry Flinchbaugh (1942-2020). Barry Flinchbaugh was well known as one of America’s leading experts on agricultural politics and economics. For more than four decades, he was a top adviser to policymakers from both major political parties, including agriculture secretaries, chairs of the US House and Senate agriculture committees, and numerous state senators and governors. Flinchbaugh was involved to some degree in every US farm bill written since 1968 and served on many national boards, advisory groups, and task forces, providing input on national agricultural and food policy. He served as Chairman of the 21st Century Production Agriculture Commission, which was authorized in the Federal Activity Inventory Reform Act of 1996, or FAIR, also known as the Freedom to Farm Act.
Flinchbaugh was also an influential instructor of agricultural policy in the department of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. From 1970 to 2020, he taught Ag Policy 400, a combination of agricultural trade, marketing, and policy. Along with his accolades as a teacher, he received numerous accolades for his influence on the agricultural economics profession.
June G. Groves (1859-1925). Born into slavery on April 12, 1859, in Louisville, Kentucky, Junius George Groves came to Kansas at the age of 19 during the time of the Exoduster Movement of ex-slaves from the southern states along the Mississippi River. He started farming near Edwardsville, Kansas, where he bought 80 acres and grew white potatoes.
Much of Groves’ success was due to his 46 years of devotion to the science of agriculture. He earned the title of “World’s Potato King” in 1902 for growing the most bushels of potatoes per acre, more than anyone else in the world up to that time. By 1900, Groves was buying and shipping potatoes, fruits, and vegetables on a large scale throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Union Pacific Railway built a special branch line on his property to meet his needs. At the height of his success, he owned over 500 acres. Groves broke financial parity with most whites in contemporary Kansas and, in the process, combated racism by example and by providing economic opportunity for blacks and whites with a particular emphasis on bettering their race. During the agricultural season, he employed up to 50 workers, most of whom were black. He founded the Groves Center, an African-American community near Edwardsville, in the early 20th century. He also established a golf course for African-Americans, perhaps the first in the United States.
Groves was one of the wealthiest African Americans in the country in the first decade of the 20th century. His holdings were estimated to be worth $80,000 in 1904 and $300,000 in 1915. He was a founding member of the Kansas State Negro Business League, the Kaw Valley Potato Association, the Sunflower State Agricultural Association, and the Church Society Pleasant Hill Baptist. He was featured in Booker T. Washington’s book The Negro in Business. (1907).
Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (1884-1991). Fabiola Cabeza de Baca spent decades of her life teaching in the classroom or traveling miles through rural New Mexico communities to share knowledge of home economics as the first Spanish-speaking Agricultural Extension service agent. She created an educational, cultural, and agricultural legacy in New Mexico and beyond. She opened the doors to education and agriculture to countless people in rural Hispanic and small town communities who otherwise would not have had such opportunities. Notably, de Baca was the first agent to serve pueblo communities, having learned Native American languages to better communicate with people from various pueblos.
De Baca emphasized the nutritional value of native foods and developed new recipes to use them, introducing techniques of food canning, an easier process than drying, which also preserved more nutrients. He wrote newsletters in Spanish on topics such as basic nutrition, food preparation, canning, and sewing machine care and use.
At the national level, de Baca was a member of the diversity committee of the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences. Early in her career, she wrote what is possibly his most far-reaching publication (and the first cookbook on New Mexican food): Historic Kitchen. It was the first publication to document the U-shaped fried taco that is now known around the world.
Throughout his years, De Baca’s achievements resonated beyond New Mexico. The United Nations recognized his experience and he joined the UN on a mission to Mexico to teach the people of the villages of the state of Michoacán new skills. She raised a generation of Peace Corps volunteers who shared her influence around the world, a testament to her influence and depth as her educator. At the national level, she was a member of the diversity committee of the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences.
For more information on the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, visit aghalloffame.com.
Source: National Agricultural Hall of Fame