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April 29, 2000

Rommel Named UW-RF Distinguished Agriculturalist

Nancy Guse
UWRF-News Bureau

The executive responsible for the daily operations of a cooperative generating $230 million dollars in loans to 3,500 farmers has been named the 2000 Distinguished Agriulturalist of the UW-River Falls.

Rodney L. Rommel of River Falls, who has worked for Farm Credit Services for the past 28 years, was recognized with the awards presented annually by the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

Rommel was raised on a diversified farm near Melrose, Wis. His academic career began at UW-River Falls, where he earned a degree in agriculture business.

After graduation he was joined the USDA-Farmers Home Administration in Buffalo and Pepin counties of Wisconsin.

In 1972 Rommel started his nearly three-decades career with Farm Credit Service working as a field assistant for the Federal Land Bank of St. Paul with responsibilities for north central Wisconsin.

Two years later he was named manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Federal Land Bank Association. His responsibilities there consisted of managing a lending association that had three employees and $7.5 million dollars in loans to 375 farmers.

The next year he was promoted to manager of Viroqua Federal Land Bank Association. His duties required him to manage a staff of 25 with $125 million in loans to 1,100 farmers.

In 1985 he accepted his current position as Chief Executive Officer of Farm Credit Services of Northwest Wisconsin supervising 75 employees. That same year Rommel was invited to serve on the Wisconsin GovernorŐs Commission on Agriculture.

According to CAFES Dean William Anderson, "Rod Rommel is very deserving of this year's distinguished agriculturist award for a number of reasons. As a member of CAFES advisory council, which is made up of industry, education, association, and alumni stakeholders, he has provided valuable imput for the College in a wide array of topics, including but not limited to, strategic planning, curriculum, technology, and facility development. He recently spearheaded an effort to procure a sizeable investment from Farm Credit Services in support of UW-RF new Dairy Learning Center." The architectural design process for the $3.5 million Center has just begun.

Some of Rommel's other accomplishments include serving as a director and board member for the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, as an adviser on the UW-River Falls Agriculture Advisory board, and as a trustee on the Seventh Farm Credit District Retirement Trust Fund.

Anderson said, "Rod has gained respect for his leadership, service and other contributions to the statewide agricultural community."

Rommel plans to retire in 2004 and devote his time as a volunteer in helping farmers make decisions that improve their economic well being.

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