Three elected to Rock County Ag Hall of Fame

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Sunday, March 23, 2014

JANESVILLE—Two farmers and an attorney will be inducted in the Rock County Ag Hall of Fame on Friday at Rotary Botanical Gardens.

All three were at the top of their respective fields and were willing to share their knowledge with others, according to a news release from the Ag Business Council of Rock County.

The plaques honoring individuals are hung in the lobby of Blain's Farm & Fleet, Janesville.

The inductees are:

—Philip Holmes, a town of Turtle farmer who died in 2008, will be honored with a “Pioneer Award.”

The award is given to a deceased person who made significant contributions to agriculture during his or her lifetime.

 Holmes was born in 1919 and spent almost all of his life on his family's 300-acre farm. After 30 years as a dairy farmer, Holmes and his wife, Jean, decided to join the Peace Corps.  He was 52 at the time.

The couple went to Peru, where he worked with dairy farmers and he worked in a mission home with children with disabilities.

In a 1991 story in The Gazette, Holmes described the experience as “very rewarding” and said he had “acquired a different view of the Third World.”

In 1977, Holmes traveled to Egypt, where he helped develop a trickle irrigation system. Two years later, the couple went to Guatemala to work on a similar system.

In the 1980s he helped send 28 head of cattle to Peru to help farmers there.

The couple was also committed to the Turtle Grange. The Grange is a community organization founded to support farmers and rural residents. 

Holmes was also a town of Turtle volunteer firefighter and active in the Turtle 4-H Club, the Rock County Soil Conservation Board and many other groups.

—George Barlass, 80, is known all over the world for both the quality of his Jerseys and his abilities as a dairy judge, according to the news release.

Barlass has been interested in progressive farming ideas since he was a young man. In 1962, Barlass was named “Outstanding Young Farmer” by the local Jaycees.

A 1962 story in The Gazette about the award noted that Barlass was a “leading exponent of artificial breeding, classification of cattle and an advocate of using only proven sires when herd enlargement is desired.” 

The story also said that in the 10 years he had been farming, Barlass had increased his farm's acreage from 160 acres to 560 acres, and had increased the family's herd to 100 registered dairy cattle in the 10 years he had been farming.

Barlass' Jerseys have won top prizes at World Dairy Expo, and he has been named premier breeder at the show numerous times.

—Kenneth Buhrow, an attorney from Edgerton, also will be honored. Buhrow is known statewide for his work in agriculture law, according to the news release.

According to a story from The Gazette's archives, Buhrow started with the Edgerton firm of Thronson, Roethe and Agnew in January 1958, just one month after passing the bar exam.

Buhrow's expertise was in the area of farm corporations and partnerships, estate planning and probate for farm clients.

Along with his work with the farm community, Buhrow was also a municipal judge for the city of Edgerton for six years, served as president of the Rock County Bar Association, was an Edgerton alderman and was involved in a variety of community organizations.

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