Ron Offutt, founder and chairman of RDO Equipment, John Deere’s largest dealer network of farm and construction machinery, will be honored at the 36th annual Harvest Bowl program at North Dakota State Univ. on October 23-24.

Offutt will receive the 2009 Agri-business Award, which recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of agriculture and business in North Dakota and beyond.

Also honored will be outstanding agriculturists from across North Dakota and western Minnesota, and scholarships will be awarded to outstanding male and female NDSU athletes.

In addition to RDO Equipment, Offutt is also the founder and chairman of the R.D. Offutt Co. The company consists of a variety of businesses. However, its cornerstone is an 8-state, 160,000-acre farming operation. RDO is the nation's largest producer of potatoes, with the majority of its 55,000 potato acres under center pivot irrigation.

RDO also operates a 26,000-acre farm and dairy operation in Boardman, Ore. This facility includes three dairies milking 21,000 cows. The company also owns food processing manufacturing plants and markets its crops through relationships with major processors, such as Frito-Lay, Simplot, Con-Agra/Lamb-Weston and McCain Foods.

Internationally, RDO formed a joint venture with Calbee Corp. in 2006 to build a plant in Boardman to source potato product for snack foods in Japan and other markets.

In addition to John Deere products, RDO Equipment, which was founded in 1968, also handles Vermeer equipment. Volvo and Mack truck centers also are integral operations of the company that is headquartered in Fargo, N.D.

Offutt is a native of Orrick, Mo., but grew up on his family's farm near Moorhead, Minn. He attended Moorhead High School and graduated from Concordia College in 1964 with a degree in economics. He is chairman of the board of regents at Concordia College.

"Ron's business successes are rooted in knowing the value of building partnerships and being on the forefront of industry innovations," says Eddie Bernhardson, Harvest Bowl Committee chair.