Inductions into the Agricultural Hall of Fame, October 23, 2021
Senator Pat Roberts
Charles Patrick “Pat” Roberts, former United States Senator representing Kansas, is inducted for his five decades of exemplary government service in support of America’s agricultural producers and the advancement of bioscience, biotechnology and biosecurity.
Senator Roberts served eight terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1981-1997) and four terms in the U.S. Senate (1997-2021). He was the first to chair both the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees and to pass a farm bill in both chambers. He was a strong supporter of bipartisan child nutrition programs, crop protection, crop insurance and producer choice.
His contributions to agriculture included work to develop a production agriculture safety net, expand trade opportunities for farmers and ranchers, and ensure the sustainability of the food and agriculture sectors.
He wrote the bipartisan 2018 farm bill to support farmers and rural communities as they developed renewable production methods, bio-based products, advanced biofuels and other industrial biotechnology products.
Through work with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security, he helped bring to Kansas the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which researches and develops countermeasures to combat biological threats.
A Marine veteran, he also served as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator Roberts was the first Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He has been honored for his outstanding leadership in biosecurity. He held the first hearings on the issue in Congress and was instrumental in passing biosecurity legislation and research investments that led to establishing the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University.
Fabián García, a pioneering horticulturist in New Mexico, is inducted for his groundbreaking work that advanced agriculture nationwide in the first half of the 20th century.
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Garcia was orphaned at two years old and brought by his grandmother to Mimbres Valley in the U.S. Territory of New Mexico. In 1894 he became a member of the first graduating class of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, now New Mexico State University. He also studied at Cornell University before returning to Las Cruces. In 1889 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Known as the “Father of the New Mexican Food Industry,” García is credited with developing modern irrigated agriculture in the state. His bilingual publications included tests on pear, peach, grape and plum varieties, and trials of onion, spinach, melon and cauliflower varieties.
As the first director of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station in 1914, he was the first Hispanic to lead a land-grant agricultural research station. He produced the first reliable chile pod, a forerunner of the Sandia pepper popular among chili lovers, and also introduced the Grano onion breed.
Garcia helped plant the first pecan trees in Mesilla Valley, including some of the 35 pecan tree varieties that still stand today. The multimillion dollar chile pepper, onion and pecan industries in New Mexico can be attributed to his research.
García was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University, which named after him the 45-acre Fabián García Science Center horticulture farm, the faculty-senate hall, its largest residence hall and the García Center building. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Society for Horticultural Science Hall of Fame.
García’s pioneering work in breeding and growing more sustainable plants transformed agriculture in the 20th century and his impact continues in the 21st century.
Elmo Mahoney, a life-long farmer activist for American agriculture, is inducted in recognition of his decades of work to improve farming techniques, influence farm policy and promote farmers’ achievements.
Elmo Mahoney was born into a pioneer family on a farm near Dorrance, Kansas. Following in his father’s and uncles’ footsteps, he became an Avery steam traction-engine enthusiast. He invented the sickle-head drive used in 18- to 22-foot harvester combine headers.
Mahoney contributed to the betterment of American agriculture through his work as president of the Russell County Farm Bureau Association and director of the Kansas Wheat Growers Association. In 1938 he was named Kansas Wheat King. A charter member of the Kansas Flying Farmers, Mahoney staged a fly-in threshing bee on his farm in 1949. Demonstrations of his 42-foot threshing machine helped popularize the antique engine and threshing shows across the country.
At the local level, he was mayor of Dorrance and a school board member. At the state level, Mahoney won a seat in the 1949-50 Kansas House of Representatives. He also represented Kansas at the national level by serving the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a policy consultant to the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He was an advocate on farm issues in state and federal government and in many public forums. In 1947 he testified before the U.S. House Agricultural Committee supporting farm programs.
Mahoney was an early preservationist of farm equipment used in early agriculture. Considered a national authority on Avery equipment, he owned Avery steam and gasoline rigs and collected Avery memorabilia.
He played a key role in establishing the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame after becoming its first curator in 1964. He accumulated and curated antique equipment and memorabilia to develop the original displays. When speaking to groups and on the radio, he espoused his belief that “the American farmer is the greatest success story in the world.”