He may have labored in obscurity, but Wayne Dillman is certainly worthy of bearing the title of Indiana Prairie Farmer/ Purdue College of Agriculture Master Farmer Honorary Master Farmer.
For more than four decades, he has served each and every one of his fellow Hoosiers by keeping his ear to the grindstone and his face in front of legislators during every session of the Indiana General Assembly, except for a short period of absence a few years ago. Coming back to Indiana after a short retirement, he switched to lobbying for Indiana Farm Bureau. Previously, all of his work was conducted for the Indiana Farmers Union. The Indiana Farmers Union no longer operates, although the National Farmers Union is still very active.
Dillman and his wife, Margaret, live in Martinsville. He farmed in the early part of his career, then was involved in agtourism before anyone knew what to call it. "We were ahead of our time," he jokes. What started as a free fishing lake turned into a pay fishing lake and later Hilltop Beach, which operated until the mid 1980s.
One reason Dillman sold it in the early 1980s was because it became extremely expensive to get liability insurance. He is very happy that he was able to help Farm Bureau lead the charge in the 2011 General Assembly to pass legislation that shifts a large share of the liability off the operators of agri-tourism concerns, and on to the individual who visits and pays to be there. He's hopeful this will encourage others who had been scared off by horror stories and the high cost of insurance to reconsider trying their hand in the industry. Farms still need liability insurance for these endeavors, but Dillamn is hopeful that the shift of responsibility will make a difference in the farm operator's favor.
Dillman learned from one of the legends in agriculture- Lawrence Dorrall. He was a master at providing information to legislators, and making sure they understood where Indiana Farmers Union stood on an issue. Now deceased, Dillman says he patterned himself after this mentor, trying to be honest, an independent source of information, fair, and yet tough at the same time in standing beyond his cause.
For all that he has done for agriculture, congratulations to Wayne Dillman for a well-deserve d honor of being names as an Honorary Master Farmer.