Seger family recognized for vision in agriculture

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jerry Seger impressed upon his eight sons the importance of working hard in business and in the community.

His vision led to the creation of two family businesses, numerous philanthropic and volunteer services in Dubois County, and the passing of those values to next generations of the Seger family.

“We like to be active in the community and supportive of Dubois County,” son Roger Seger said this morning. “We got that directly from our father.”

The State of Indiana recognized that forward-looking vision Thursday, with Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch presenting the Jerry Seger family with the AgriVision Award at the Indiana State Fair. Tim and Jim Craig of James Allen Insurance also received the award.

Crouch said that it was an honor to present the award to the recipients. “Their vision has shaped the foundation of this great industry,” she said, “and not just statewide, but nationally and globally. We would not be where we are today without their leadership.”

Jerry Seger started the family farm in the 1950s, buying out his father’s feed mill in southwestern Indiana. His vision was to create a feed business for chickens and turkeys, which later evolved into owning those flocks, as well as the eggs they produced. Eventually, his operation expanded, as he began marketing the chickens, turkeys and eggs he owned.

Meanwhile, Jerry and his wife, Lila, raised eight sons: Brad, Larry, Randy, Roger, Scott, Steve, Ted and Tom. All eight boys graduated from Indiana University. Seven of them came back to work in the family businesses; son Randy, a lawyer in Indianapolis, does the legal work for the businesses.

“We came back because we wanted to keep the legacy alive and keep growing the business,” Roger said. “And that is what we are doing with the next generations.”

Over the course of the 60 years after starting the Seger family farm, Jerry Seger built the business, which expanded into two parts: Wabash Valley Produce Inc. in Dubois and Farbest Foods Inc. in Huntingburg. Wabash Valley Produce processes seven million eggs a day, which are sent to three different facilities to be converted into egg whites or egg yolks. Farbest Foods, which has locations in Huntingburg and Vincennes, raises, feeds and processes approximately 60,000 turkeys per day, which are sold mainly in the U.S., but also around the world. Combined, these businesses provide jobs for 2,000 employees. After Jerry Seger died in 2003, his sons continued the family businesses; Lila Seger died in 2015.

Brother Ted runs Farbest Foods, and two generations of Segers work there. Roger and two of his brothers, Scott and Tom, run Wabash Valley, where three generations of Segers are involved.

“We all wanted to have at least one child working in the family business,” Roger said, “so that each sibling (strand) was represented.”

Two brothers have died: Larry and Steve. And one brother, Brad, retired this year from Wabash Valley. “He is the first brother to retire,” Roger noted.

Serving the community was important to Jerry Seger, and he made sure to pass that attribute on to his sons.

“Dad was very active, in sports, baseball, the Republican Party,” Roger said.

The boys did follow in his footsteps. The family has contributed to many community projects in the county. And the siblings volunteer in different groups. “One brother has been president of the local Republican Party,” Roger noted, “one president of the local baseball league, one president of the local park board.”

Today, the Jerry Seger family is known for their leadership in environmental stewardship, farm safety, animal welfare and innovation in the poultry sector, a state agriculture spokesperson said. They are also active members of their communities and support Indiana farmers by sourcing their grain locally.

“Indiana’s agricultural strength comes from the values, ingenuity and perseverance of Hoosiers,” Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler said.

Now in its 12th year, the AgriVision Award recognizes members of Indiana’s agricultural community for demonstrating vision, innovation and leadership in their field.

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