BATON ROUGE, La. – Due to concerns over the coronavirus COVID-19 and heeding directions from Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, the 2020 Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction ceremonies scheduled for March 26 in Baton Rouge have been postponed until further notice.


This year’s inductees ‒ James Barnett, John Denison, Jay Hardwick and Calvin Viator ‒ will be celebrated at a later date in recognition of their significant contributions to the state’s agricultural community.


Previously purchased tickets will be honored at the rescheduled date.




The seventh annual Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction
ceremonies in March will honor four new inductees who have made major contributions to forestry, rice, cotton and sugarcane. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge.


The Hall of Distinction recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to Louisiana’s farming, ranching, forestry, aquaculture, education, and agribusiness industries.

This year’s inductees are James Barnett, John Denison, Jay Hardwick
and Calvin Viator.


Barnett, a Pineville native, has spent nearly 50 years advancing the reforestation of Southern pine species. He is being honored for his major contributions, research, and advancements with seeds and seedlings. A former captain in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, he has written more than 350 publications on seedling survivability and forest nursery management. He is a 50-year member of the Society of American Foresters and a distinguished alumnus of the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources.

Denison is a third-generation farmer from Iowa, Louisiana. He is being recognized for his integral role in the advancements in the production and profitability of Louisiana’s rice industry. Denison has earned numerous honors and significant positions over the years, including chairman of the Louisiana Rice Producers Group, Rice Farming Magazine Famer of the Year and serving as a founding member of the Louisiana Rice Research Board.


Hardwick, of Newellton, has made cotton farming more environmentally friendly by focusing on production techniques that have minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem. His previous honors include the National Cotton Achievement Award, the National Award for Environmental Sustainability and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s  Environmental Excellence Award. He also serves as chairman of the
American Cotton Producers of the National Cotton Council.


A native of the Bayou Teche area, Viator was reared on his family’s sugarcane farm and has become an active contributor to the agriculture community. He founded one of the state’s most successful crop consulting companies and works closely with the American Sugarcane League, the LSU AgCenter and the USDA.

Event tickets are $45 and are available for purchase by clicking here.

2020 Inductees

Dr. James Barnett

Pineville, LA 

Dr. Jay Hardwick

Newellton, LA

John Denison

Iowa, LA

Dr. Calvin Viator

Thibodaux, LA

2019 Inductees (l-r) Dr. Grady Coburn, Linda Zaunbrecher, Lee Hamilton Trichel accepted on behalf of her late father Jack Hamilton, and George LaCour, Jr.

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For the 7th consecutive year, Bayer is the Title Sponsor of the Hall of Distinction.

Event Sponsor


Presenting Sponsor



Cotton Board

Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association

Louisiana Forestry Association

Louisiana Lottery

USA Rice Federation

About the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction


The Hall of Distinction is produced by the Louisiana Radio Network in cooperation with the LSU Ag Center, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. Started in 2013, the Hall of Distinction seeks to recognize those who have made an extraordinary contribution to Agri-business in the state of Louisiana.


Nominations are accepted each summer, and the selection process is completed by the end of the calendar year, with inductees named in early Spring.


You can learn more about the nomination process by clicking on the NOMINATIONS tab above.


The Hall of Distinction thanks all of it's sponsors for making this event possible.

If you ate today, thank a farmer.

© 2020 Louisiana Radio Network