Dairy farmer Walter C. Hopkins, a longtime leader in First State agriculture, was honored for his service and contributions Jan. 24, as Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee presented him with the Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service to Delaware Agriculture.
Hopkins operates Delaware's largest dairy farm, Green Acres Farm, outside Lewes with his son and family. The farm has been in the Hopkins family for four generations, and with 500 cows, produces more than 12 million pounds of milk each year.
"Walter Hopkins exemplifies the best qualities of Delaware agriculture: hard work, dedication and community leadership," Kee said, presenting the surprise award at the 42nd annual Agricultural Industry Dinner, attended by more about 400 people, including farmers, business leaders and elected officials. "His service to our state is exceptional, and the economic contributions and innovations on his family's farm are unparalleled. We need more people like him to lead our industry."
Gov. Jack Markell praised Hopkins' contributions to agriculture. "Delaware farms are a vitally important part of our economy, and no one knows that better than Walter Hopkins," Markell said. "He has continued his family's long tradition of excellence and service, and deserves our thanks for his leadership."
Hopkins has served on the board of MidAtlantic Farm Credit since 1988. He also is a member of the Delaware Farm Bureau, Land O' Lakes Cooperative, Genex Cooperative and the Holstein Association, as well as Jefferson Lodge No. 15 A.F. & A.M. and Coolspring Presbyterian Church. He is a former president of the Cape Henlopen school board.
In 2012, the farm was honored with the Sussex County Agricultural Conservation Award from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and every spring, owners and staff work with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension to offer school tours. The family is also known for its on-farm Hopkins Farm Creamery, a popular ice cream spot launched in 2008 by Hopkins' son, Walter C. "Burli" Hopkins Jr.
Past recipients of the Secretary's Award include U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Michael Scuse, a former Delaware secretary of agriculture (2012); Delmarva Farmer Senior Editor Bruce Hotchkiss (2012); James Baxter of Georgetown (2011); brothers David, Ed and Robert Baker of Middletown (2010); and Bill Vanderwende of Bridgeville (2009).