KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City honored two of the region’s leading agricultural figures on May 16 at a luncheon in the Chamber Board Room in Kansas City’s historic Union Station. The honorees – Lee Borck, chairman of Innovative Livestock Services (ILS) and Beef Marketing Group Cooperative (BMG) and farm broadcasting legend Gene Millard of Millard Family Farms – received the Jay B. Dillingham Award for Agricultural Leadership and Excellence, the Council’s highest recognition. Both men have each left their marks on the ag industry over careers extending nearly 50 years.
Council Chairman Robert Thompson, a partner and co-leader of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP’s Food & Agribusiness Industry Group, described this year’s Dillingham Awards recipients as strong examples of what being an advocate for agriculture can accomplish. “These individuals have had a positive and lasting effect on our community.”
Lee Borck was introduced as “an industry icon” by Dee Likes, himself a Dillingham Award honoree in 2015. In his remarks as he accepted the award, Borck said real success in any business endeavor involves doing the right things and ensuring benefits from accomplishments touch everyone in the community. He also stressed that American agriculture has to better tout its accomplishments to the world and will need to adjust its messaging to reflect that it is no longer a commodity industry but a branded one that deserves equitable pricing for the value it creates.
Gene Millard offered a similar assessment of agriculture saying most consumers have a gross underestimation of the value crop growers and livestock producers provide. “Agriculture is a value-added business,” he pointed out, “nothing comes off the fields without a farmer having added value to it.”
Opening the program, John Dillingham, son of Jay B. Dillingham, told Council members that the Kansas City region, situated as it is on the Missouri River, flowing into and from the Mississippi and Kaw Rivers, and connected to coastal ports via rail and highway has an opportunity to become the Silicon Valley of agriculture.
About The Honorees:
- Lee Borck– Chairman of Innovative Livestock Services, Inc., and Chairman of the Beef Marketing Group Cooperative. Combined, these two groups representing cattle feedlots in Kansas and Nebraska, have grown into one of the nation’s largest feeding organizations. As a standalone organization, ILS represents banking, farming, ethanol production and trucking interests. The BMG, under the guidance and leadership of Borck and other central Kansas cattle producers, is a cooperative of cattle producers and farms focused on working together to do what is right to remain sustainable. Borck is also chairman of American State Bank of Great Bend, Kansas and is the past President of Cattle-Fax, which is the nation’s leading cattle and data analysis company. Borck has served the industry as president of the Kansas Livestock Association, and has also served as a board member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Board. He served as the Chairman of the Kansas 4-H Foundation and was Vice Chairman and a board member for the Kansas Bioscience Authority. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Kansas State University Foundation. Borck has received numerous industry awards
- Gene Millard– Millard Family Farms. Millard retired in 2003 after a nearly 40-year career in Radio and Farm broadcasting. He joined KFEQ radio in St. Joseph in 1964 as a farm broadcaster and in 1976 he was named the station’s general manager. In 1999 he became vice president of Eagle Radio Inc. which included stations KFEQ, KSJQ, KKJO, KSFT and the Ag Info Center. In retirement he continues to host a one-hour live show each Saturday on a 15 station, 5 state network including KFEQ. In addition to operating his family farm with his son, Brian, Millard currently serves as Chairman of the board of Golden Triangle Energy LLC and a board member of Citizens Bank and Trust in Kansas City. He has served as President of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, a board member of the National Association of Broadcasters, Chairman of the Board of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, President of the Missouri Kansas Chapter of the National Agri Marketing Association and served as Director of Marketing and Interim Executive of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. In 2009 he served as President of the Missouri Renewable Fuels Association as well as Board Chairman of United Cooperative of Plattsburg and Osborn, MO. He has been honored by numerous organizations and in 2010 was inducted into the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
— Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City
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