FSA brass honor Dale Ihry: 'Our farm bill MVP, our national hero'
FARGO, N.D.--Dale Ihry never headed a state office, but some of the nation and state's top brass in federal agricultural program leadership gathered on Sept. 10 in Fargo to dedicate a Farm Service Administration training center to his memory.
FARGO, N.D.-Dale Ihry never headed a state office, but some of the nation and state's top brass in federal agricultural program leadership gathered on Sept. 10 in Fargo to dedicate a Farm Service Administration training center to his memory.
The North Dakota FSA office held a special program under a large tent on the state headquarters grounds. More than 200 attendees from farming and commodity groups filed through a computer training center that is decorated with Ihry's photo, a map of North Dakota counties, and some of his favorite quotations, and a "red-line" copy of the farm bill.
Ihry, 58, died Jan. 3 in Fargo after a brief, rare illness. He had served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FSA from 1983 to 2015. He retired from that post and soon was hired as executive director of the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.
Brad Thykeson, state executive director, said Ihry's passing was a shock. He said it is fitting that a training room honors a man who was "passionate about his job, passionate about his fellow citizen and passionate about agriculture" in a way that transcended titles.
Kathy Sayers, chief of staff to FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce, stood in for her boss and was flanked by Martin Barbre, national administrator of the Risk Management Agency.
A native of Texas and a counterpart there, Sayers had served on national task forces with Ihry.
"Dale made a great impression on all who met him," Sayers said, at times becoming emotional. "He was the face, the voice and the pulse of FSA in agriculture for North Dakota and the nation. He just got it." She described Ihry as '"our superstar, our farm bill MVP and our national hero" and thanked the family for "sharing him with us."
Attending the event were his wife, Brenda, and three grown children - Jessica and Jamie, and a son Tyler, and several grandchildren.
A native of Hope, N.D., Ihry grew up in a large family, many of whom are farming or in the insurance businesses. He earned a bachelor's degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1983. He was a county executive director the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He was county executive director in Ward County before joining the state staff in 1987. In 1994, the ASCS agency merged with other USDA agencies to become the FSA.
Bob Christman, one of four former FSA state executive directors at the event, said he'd hired Ihry at a time when the agency was working to upgrade the qualifications of county executive directors, to have collegiate training, and that Ihry had was outstanding at training staff and farmers on programs that were becoming more complex.