INDIANAPOLIS — Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch presented Terry L. Tucker, of Maple Leaf Farms, with the state’s highest agricultural honor, the AgriVision Award.
Tucker was one of two honored with the award.
Now in its 13th year, the award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the agriculture industry and their communities.
“These families represent the very best of Indiana agriculture,” Crouch said. “They’ve dedicated their lives to improving the industry and the lives of those around them. Recognizing their legacy today is a small token of our gratitude for a lifetime of service.”
Tucker grew up in Mentone where his family raised hogs and ran a local dairy. While he had a passion for agriculture, he did not envision working on his family’s dairy business, so he got a job at a local feed company and farm, owned by Donald Wentzel, founder of Maple Leaf Farms.
Tucker went on to study agricultural economics at Purdue University, and while at school, married Sandra Wentzel, Donald’s daughter. Upon graduation in 1963, he joined his father-in-law full time at Maple Leaf Farms, starting as a field service technician. Working his way up the ranks, he went on to manage the processing operations and was later promoted to controller.
With the passing of Donald in 1968, Tucker was named CEO of Maple Leaf Farms. Over the next 30 years, he would revolutionize the business overseeing changes towards vertical integration, the construction of Serenade Foods and the building of a specialized duck feed mill and diagnostic lab – all to improve the production processes and grow the business. He also prioritized animal health and food safety, and oversaw the construction of a biosecure hatchery and breeding farm in Indiana.
In 2001, Tucker announced that his sons, Scott and John, would begin leading the company as co-presidents. They formed MLF Biotech in 2004 to market the company’s natural animal health products and began selling duck breeding stock to international duck producers six years later.
Under their leadership, Maple Leaf Farms has continued to expand and recently introduced the INDUX® System, which is an integrated duck production system that offers nutrition, diagnostics, research, management and other services to international duck breeding stock customers. Maple Leaf Farms was also the first duck company in North America to implement a comprehensive animal well-being program and be certified through the global food safety initiative.
Along with providing jobs for over 1,000 employees, the Tuckers continue to give back to agriculture and their community. Each year, the company donates thousands of pounds of poultry products to hunger relief agencies and supports local agricultural, culinary, education and community development organizations.
“Terry, their families, are pillars in the agricultural community and world, for that matter,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director. “They’ve revolutionized and shaped entire sectors of the industry. Agriculture would not be where it is today without their contribution.”