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One of my agriculture photos was named the winner of an international photography competition yesterday. It was the second year in a row I had received the The Star Prize for Agricultural Photography in a photo contest sponsored by John Deere and presented by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) recognizes excellence in agricultural photography from around the world.

Photographers compete in three categories—people, production, and nature/landscape—from which an overall winner is selected. My photograph of farm fields in the shadow of the Highwood Mountains near Geraldine, Montana was the photograph selected by the judges as the winner of the nature and landscape category and it was one of three finalists for Photo of the Year among entries from over 30 countries.

A photo by Australian photographer Jacqui Bateman was named the overall winner from among the three finalists. The awards were presented yesterday (April 3, 2017) at the 2017 IFAJ Congress in Pretoria, South Africa.

I learned I won the award when a friend and freelance photographer from Canada sent me a message on Twitter from South Africa where the awards ceremony took place. A delegation of American agriculture journalists and editors accepted the award on my behalf.

Last year my photo of a cowboy herding cattle in the rain near Chinook, Montana was the overall winner in the international contest. Although the annual competition has been running for more than 20 years, my 2016 award was the first time a photographer from the United States has won an award from the IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Photography contest since 2004.

I was surprised to learn I won the contest. I was on the road when the Tweet came in. Last year the awards ceremony was in June, so I didn’t expect any news until then. So, I was a little shocked when I received a message telling me I won.

I was out driving around making photos of Chouteau County a few years ago on a beautiful summer morning when I stumbled onto the scene photographed in my winning entry. The sunlight was beautiful that morning. And when I saw the stripes of alfalfa and wheat on the Charles Davis farm and ranch outside of Geraldine, I knew I had a chance to make a great Montana photograph. The rocky Highwood Mountains over the horizon added to the flavor of the photograph and I was very happy with the results.

In the past year Klassy’s winning photo was been published several times by many different publications, including The Montana Quarterly Magazine and it will be seen on the cover of a new book this summer by David R. Montgomery called, “Growing a Revolution–Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.”

I am honored to have won the contest and I couldn’t be happier to see the beauty of Montana agriculture featured on an international stage. It really is a little overwhelming.

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