Farm Bureau honors three agriculture leaders for distinguished service

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation honored three of its longtime volunteer leaders Nov. 30 with Distinguished Service Awards.

The awards were presented to Evelyn H. Janney of Floyd County, Stephen L. Saufley of Rockingham County and, posthumously, to the late Alvin W. Blaha of Dinwiddie County during the VFBF Annual Convention in Hot Springs.

Blaha was a lifelong farmer and a nationally respected agriculture leader. He served as president of the Dinwiddie County Farm Bureau for 16 years between 1989 and 2016 and also served on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC board of trustees. Additionally, he served as president of the Virginia Soybean Association and the Southern States Southside Cooperative.

Blaha was a founder and served as board chairman of the Virginia Cotton Growers Association and served as chairman of the Virginia Cotton Board and the Dinwiddie County Extension Leadership Council. He also was a founding director and executive committee member of the United Soybean Board.

He was a member of Virginia Soybean Board, the Virginia Agribusiness Council board and the agricultural advisory committees of Reps. Randy Forbes and Norman Sisisky. He served as vice chairman of the Virginia State University College of Agriculture Advisory Council and was a member of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition steering committee.

In addition, he served on the Dinwiddie County Planning Commission and the Appomattox River Soil & Water Conservation District board.

“It is no exaggeration to say that, for 76 years, Alvin Blaha lived and breathed agriculture, and he’s profoundly missed by his Farm Bureau family,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “In fact, this is the first year anyone can remember Alvin missing this convention.”

Blaha is well-remembered as the host and founder of a regional Farm Bureau Legislative Appreciation Day that was held at his farm each summer to bring farmers, elected officials and candidates for state and local office together in a forum of fellowship, Pryor said.

“No one can replace Alvin, but we hope this award serves to express our gratitude and our high regard for him to his family.”

Floyd County cattle producer Evelyn H. Janney was honored for her local Farm Bureau leadership and 12 years of service on the VFBF board of directors. Janney has been a Farm Bureau member since 1976 and is a past president of the Floyd County Farm Bureau. She also has chaired her county Farm Bureau’s women’s committee and served as its legislative director. On the state level, she has chaired the VFBF Natural and Environmental Resources and Forestry Advisory Committee and served on other advisory committees. She has served on the board of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, and in 1991 she was named VFBF Farm Woman of the Year.

Janney also has served on the Floyd County Planning Commission and been a citizen representative on the New River Planning District Commission and the New River Valley on the Virginia Roanoke River Basin Advisory Committee.

“Evelyn has been one of most involved and committed members of her community—and our community—for decades,” Pryor said. “She recognized that, in order to be more effective advocates for agriculture, Farm Bureau needed new tools to reach legislators. She was part of the team that developed the VFBF AgPAC political action committee and is a former AgPAC trustee.”

Rockingham County beef cattle producer Stephen L. Saufley was honored for 21 years of service on the VFBF board. He is a past president of the Rockingham County Farm Bureau and chaired the VFBF Ornamental Horticulture Advisory Committee and Rural Health Advisory Committee. He also served on the Investment and Finance Committee. He is a past member of the Rockingham Petroleum Cooperatives board and has worked as a school bus driver for more than 45 years.

“Steve’s quiet leadership as a member of the board helped move Farm Bureau through a time of growth and transition,” Pryor said. “Dedication, patience and nurturing are just some of the qualities he modeled for our members during his tenure.”

With 126,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life. View more convention news as it becomes available at  

Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139.

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