Agricultural Hall of Fame to induct former senator, horticulturist, activist-inventor

Three men who contributed to advancing American agriculture—former Sen. Pat Roberts, late horticulturist Fabián García and late farmer activist Elmo Mahoney—will be inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame, Oct. 23, at the National Agricultural Center in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Giving remarks will be Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who signed the 1960 charter establishing the Agricultural Hall of Fame. Delayed by COVID, the Hall of Fame is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

The inductees join George Washington Carver, John Deere, Willie Nelson and other notables.


Former Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts supported America’s agricultural producers and advancement of bioscience, biotechnology and biosecurity. He was first to chair both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and pass farm bills in both chambers. He supported bipartisan child nutrition programs, crop protection and insurance.

Roberts helped develop a production agriculture safety net, expand trade and ensure food sustainability. He wrote the bipartisan 2018 farm bill to support farmers and rural communities developing renewable production methods, bio-based products and advanced biofuels.

He helped bring to Kansas the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and the Biosecurity Research Institute. A Marine veteran, he was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. As first chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, he helped pass biosecurity legislation.

Fabián García (1871-1948), “Father of the New Mexican Food Industry,” pioneered breeding and growing sustainable plants that advanced agriculture nationwide. Born in Mexico, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1889.

As director of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station in 1914, he was the first Hispanic to lead a land-grant agricultural research station. He produced the first reliable chile pod and introduced the Grano onion breed.

He helped plant the first pecan trees in Mesilla Valley, including some still standing today. García developed modern irrigated agriculture in the state. New Mexico’s chile pepper, onion and pecan industries are attributed to his research.

Elmo Mahoney (1908-1979) worked to improve farming techniques, influence farm policy and promote farmers’ achievements. Born on a farm near Dorrance, Kansas, he invented the sickle-head drive used in harvester combine headers.

He was president of the Russell County Farm Bureau Association, director of the Kansas Wheat Growers Association and charter member of Kansas Flying Farmers. Mahoney served in the 1949-50 Kansas House of Representatives and was policy consultant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service.

Mahoney was an early preservationist of farm equipment and a national authority on Avery equipment. As its first curator he helped establish the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame.