ESSEX JUNCTION — Fairfield dairy farmer Harold Howrigan has been named to the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Howrigan was one of four Vermont farmers to receive the lifetime achievement award this year.
The other 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award winners are Jacques and Pauline Couture, owners of Missisquoi Valley Farm and Couture’s Maple Shop and Bed and Breakfast in Westfield, and the late Alan Curler, an agricultural lender, consultant, herdsman and farmhand from New Haven.
Howrigan followed in the footsteps of his father, Harold Howrigan Sr., serving as president of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery from 2016 to 2019 and as a board member from 2009 to 2019, when he led the creamery through a merger with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA). Howrigan, Sr. was inducted into the hall of fame in 2004.
In the announcement of the award, the Champlain Valley Expo (CVE) said Howrigan “has made a significant impact in Vermont’s dairy and maple” industries.
According to CVE, those who nominated Howrigan cited his “integrity and perseverance to support the dairy community and maple producers through selfless giving of his time to improve the overall health of Vermont’s agricultural community.”
Harold has also served as director of the Franklin County Maples Cooperative and on the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Green Mountain Dairy Farmers Board, United Dairy Industry Association, Dairy Management Inc., and the Advisory Board of the Vermont Milk Commission. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture also appointed him to serve on the National Dairy Promotion Research Board.
Jacques and Pauline Couture of Westfield have been mainstays of Vermont agriculture since 1970, operating the 425-acre Missisquoi Valley Farm in Westfield with 70-plus milking cows. The family farm has been certified organic since 2007. They also operate the successful Couture’s Maple Shop and Bed and Breakfast, selling their Vermont maple syrup harvested from 7,500 taps and promoting Vermont agri-tourism.
“Over the decades, Jacques has worked hard to ensure Missisquoi Valley Farm is sustainable and productive, even in the toughest of economic times,” CVE said of the couple. “Coupled with the support and expertise that Pauline brings to all facets of the operation, from field to barn to their store and B&B, they are a formidable force in making Vermont agriculture the best it can be.”
Both of the Coutures are heavily involved in volunteer work, including in conservation, scouting, church programs, 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and more. Leaders in the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, Jacques and Pauline were named 2014 Outstanding Sugar Makers of the Year.
As one nominator noted, “they selflessly support Vermont agriculture as a way of life. Over the decades, the Coutures have worked closely with industry trade groups and environmental agencies to ensure the survival of their farm as well as others throughout Vermont.”
Their farm is conserved by “Vermont Farmlands For The Future” and is a New England Green Pastures winner. They are working with a young business partner, Dave Myers, who came on board in 2013 to help ensure the continued success of the farm after they retire.
Alan Curler of New Haven was best known in the agriculture community as a selfless volunteer, always working the grill at the Dusty Chuck 4-H food booth at the Addison County Fair and Field Days. It was just one of countless agriculture organizations he served, including the Vermont Dairy Industry Association, FFA, 4-H, Eastern States Exposition, the VTC Alumni Association and the Vermont Farm Show.
Helping others to understand the importance of farming and agriculture to Vermont was at the heart of everything he did, according to one of his nominators. “Through his participation over time he has conveyed the importance of agriculture (and volunteering) and it has impacted the paths that our lives have taken,” they said.
Alan held many ag-related jobs throughout his life and career. He began as a boy, working alongside his father and brothers on Addison County dairies. From that point he continued on as a farm hand, herdsman, AI technician, lender, consultant and Extension representative. His greatest impact on Vermont agriculture came through his many decades as a consultant and lender within the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Chittenden Bank and Vermont Economic Development Authority.
In the announcement, CVE said of Curler: “It was not lost on any of the farmers Alan worked with just how much he cared about the success of Vermont agriculture and them, as farmers and individuals. There are countless stories from those he worked with about how much he helped them through difficult times, about how he would just stop in (sometimes riding up on his Harley) to see how things were going for them, and about the efforts he made to help them be successful, both in his official capacity and efforts off the clock.”
Because of COVID-19 this year’s winners will be inducted alongside the 2021 winners at next year’s Champlain Valley Exposition.