Category Archives: AgLink e-newsletter

Ag Econ Department Welcomes New Faculty Members

The Department of Agricultural Economics welcomed five new faculty members with the start of the fall semester.

Brian Briggeman

Brian Briggeman, Associate Professor
305C Waters Hall • (785) 532-2573 •
Brian Briggeman joined the faculty this fall as associate professor of agricultural economics and director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center. Briggeman earned his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from K-State in 2000. He received his master’s degree in agricultural economics in 2002 from Texas A&M University. In 2006, he completed his Ph.D. in agricultural economics at Purdue University. Prior to K-State, Briggeman worked as an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Omaha Branch.


Gregg Hadley

Gregg Hadley, Associate Professor
123 Umberger Hall • (785) 532-5838 •
Gregg Hadley has joined the department as an associate professor of agricultural economics. He is the associate director for agriculture and natural resources for K-State Research and Extension. Hadley earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics at Purdue University in 1989. He earned his master’s degree in 2001 and Ph.D. in 2003, both in agricultural economics from Michigan State University. Prior to coming to K-State, Hadley worked as an associate professor and extension farm management specialist at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.


Nathan Hendricks

Nathan Hendricks, Assistant Professor
304F Waters Hall • (785) 477-5430 •
Nathan Hendricks joined the faculty this fall as assistant professor of agricultural economics and is specializing in natural resources. He teaches AGEC 315 Contemporary Issues in Global Food and Agricultural Systems. Hendricks earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from K-State in 2005 and 2007, respectively. In 2011, he completed his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California – Davis.


Nina Lilja

Nina Lilja, Associate Professor
144 Waters Hall • (785) 532-5627 •
Nina Lilja has been promoted to associate professor of agricultural economics. She has served as director of international agricultural programs for the College of Agriculture since 2008. Lilja earned her bachelor’s degree in international service and development in 1987 from World College West. She completed her master’s at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1992 and Ph.D. at Purdue University in 1996, both in agricultural economics. Prior to K-State, she was a senior scientist for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research in Colombia.


Mykel Taylor

Mykel Taylor, Assistant Professor
331C Waters Hall • (785) 532-3033 •
Mykel Taylor joined the faculty this fall as assistant professor of agricultural economics with a major appointment in extension. Taylor earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management in 2000 and master’s degree in applied economics in 2001, both from Montana State University. She completed her Ph.D. in economics in 2008 at North Carolina State University. Prior to K-State, Taylor was an assistant professor and extension specialist for the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University.


MAB Program to Host International Faculty

By Mary Bowen

Since 2002, the Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program has offered agribusiness professionals a chance to study the global food and agriculture industry without leaving the U.S. One course, Comparative Food and Agriculture Systems, is internationally taught by professors in seven different regions and offers an in-depth view of the global food and agribusiness industry. Now these professors get to be the students of the U.S. food and agriculture system during a visit to Kansas Sept. 20-25.

“The course is unique in that it provides a global perspective on the world’s food and agricultural system that will have to likely double output in the next 40 years. The course is currently taught at the University of Florida, the University of Missouri, Massey University and Moscow State University, in addition to K-State,” said Allen Featherstone, professor of agricultural economics and MAB program director.

During the meeting, the group will review and update the Comparative Food and Agriculture Systems course. They also will visit a few of Kansas’ premier agriculture facilities including the Hal Ross Flour Mill and the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI), both at K-State; Frito-Lay in Topeka; Frahm Farmland in Colby; and Cow Camp Beef in Ramona.

This is the group’s fourth meeting since its inception. Past meetings have also been held in Toulouse, France, and Canterbury, New Zealand. In 2006, the program was awarded a USDA/CSREES International Science and Education Competitive Grant to expand the course to include new partners representing North America, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Faculty also will present sessions during MAB’s agribusiness conference discussing the energy situation, global food security and agricultural policy.

Raijinder Sidhu of India’s Punjab Agricultural University will provide an update of the changing energy situation and needs in India. Pavel Sorokin of Russia’s Moscow State Agro-Engineering University will share a Russian perspective on feeding an increasing global population. Daniel Conforte of Uruguay’s Universidad ORT will talk about the development of dairy and livestock trading programs between South America and China. Other faculty will participate in a discussion on the future of the food and agriculture industry.

Current MAB students and alumni attending the agribusiness conference will have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with the faculty they have previously only known virtually through recorded lectures and internet chat rooms.

Faculty from K-State and around the world participating in the meeting include:

  • Daniel Conforte, Universidad ORT, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Pavel Sorokin, Moscow State Agro-Engineering University, Moscow, Russia
  • Nicolas Habert, Ecole d’ingénieurs Purpan, Toulouse, France
  • Ravipim Chaveesuk, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Keith Woodford, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Lisa House, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
  • Theodora Hyuha, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Rajinder Sidhu, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India
  • Allen Featherstone, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.


Alumnus Lee Borck Inducted Into Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame

Lee Borck

Editor’s note: Lee Borck, a 1970 K-State agricultural economics graduate, was inducted into the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame by Drovers Cattle Network. The program, sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, celebrates the rich traditions of the cattle-feeding industry and recognizes individuals who have devoted their careers to preserving its mission and improving production practices.

By Greg Henderson, Drovers

There’s an old saying that if you want to get something done, give the job to a busy man. And typically those men are busy because they are successful. Lee Borck is one of those men.

Borck built a career in the cattle-feeding industry with hard work, strong personal relationships and an entrepreneurial spirit. Those traits are shared by many in the cattle industry, but Borck stands out as a leader for his vision and ability to guide a growing enterprise toward the future.

For his achievements and support of the cattle-feeding industry, Borck was inducted into the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame in June in Denver, Colo.

“I am humbled and deeply honored by the recognition,” Borck says. “A lot of the credit goes to the good people I have been fortunate to work with and partner with over the years.”

That attitude says a lot about a man who cares more about results than credit.

“Lee has been a great business partner for us and many other cattle feeders,” says Knight Feed Lot manager Mark Knight. “Relationships and friendships are very important to him.”

Raised on a farm homesteaded by his great-grandfather near Blue Rapids, Kan., Borck attended Kansas State University, earning a degree in agricultural economics in 1970. He began his career with the Larned Production Credit Association before joining Ward Feed Yard, Inc., in 1979.

As the feed yard’s general manager, Borck developed business relationships with other feeders and began to accept industry leadership roles. By 1992, he was elected president of the Kansas Livestock Association. He has also served on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association board and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and was president of Cattle-Fax in 1994.

Borck’s vision for the cattle industry, however, was not limited to volunteer leadership roles in state and national organizations. He recognized early-on that cattle feeding was an integral part of America’s food system, and he helped create business relationships designed to improve the quality of beef production.

In 1988, Borck led a group of 11 feeding entities to form a marketing cooperative called Beef Marketing Group.

“We were having a difficult time competing price-wise with the larger feedyards,” Borck says. “We knew we needed to get bigger to be relevant. The way we could get bigger was with cooperation rather than capital, by forming a cooperative to market our cattle.”

Beef Marketing Group, then, became one of the first entities to form a working relationship with a packing company. Originally BMG fed and marketed a large percentage of Holsteins to Excel, but by 1993, BMG entered into one of the first agreements with IBP (now Tyson) to market cattle using a pricing grid. That agreement, Borck admits, made him and the other BMG principals unpopular in some corners of the cattle industry.

“At the time, Kenny Knight (a BMG member) told me we had to be friends because everybody else hated us,” Borck recalls.

In retrospect, however, BMG was on the leading edge of an industry trend that helped revolutionize the way cattle are marketed and upgraded the overall quality of products offered to consumers.

“Our goals have been to make a better beef product and market cattle closer to the meat case,” Borck says. “Our marketing strategies have always been to produce higher-quality cattle and earn premiums for doing so.”

Earlier this year, BMG made headlines again with the introduction of Progressive Beef, a verified system of production that includes animal care, animal handling, a HACCP-based system for feed mills and environmental compliance. In short, it’s a promise to consumers that all the cattle in the production system were handled and managed properly.

“Progressive Beef was a concept that was 12 or 13 years in the making,” Borck says. “It’s a continuation of our efforts to produce a safe and wholesome product of the highest quality.”

With the implementation of Progressive Beef, BMG helps packers and retailers fulfill the needs and desires of consumers, and makes cattle produced through the BMG system more valuable.

Today, Borck remains chairman of Beef Marketing Group, now headquartered in Manhattan, Kan., a cooperative that has a one-time feeding capacity of 250,000 head. He’s also president of Innovative Livestock Services, a venture-capital company that owns six of the feedyards that comprise BMG, including Ward Feed Yard where Borck began his career. ILS includes a 25,000-acre farming operation and other services that provide advantages to ILS customers and partners.

“Lee has always been forward thinking,” Knight says. “And he’s always calm and he thinks before he speaks. He has a lot of experience that has benefitted all of his business partners.”

Borck’s passions aren’t limited to cattle feeding, however. He’s proud of his family — wife Kathleen and daughter and son-in-law Debi and Doug Bazzel, who have two children, Brooke, 7, and Braden, 4 — and he’s an ardent supporter of Kansas State University.

“I feel fortunate for the quality education that I received at Kansas State and the life-long friendships that I have been blessed with through my association with Kansas State,” Borck says.

As committed as Borck has been to the cattle industry, he’s also devoted much time and resources to Kansas State in an effort to help others succeed through education. In 1992, Borck was named K-State Outstanding Stockman, an alumni fellow by the KSU College of Ag in 1995, and Distinguished Alumni by the KSU department of ag econ in 1998. In December 2007, he received the KSU Medal of Excellence, the university’s highest honor.

Borck has also filled leadership roles at the Kansas State University Foundation, the College of Agriculture, the K-State Alumni Association and intercollegiate athletics. He has also served on the dean’s advisory council for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Lee and Kathleen have made an annual commitment of $30,000 to the KSU Foundation to establish the Borck Leadership Scholars fund, a scholarship that will be endowed through a $1 million bequest. The Borcks have previously made multiple gifts for scholarships, research, facilities and general support of Kansas State. The Borck Leadership Scholars fund provides 15 annual scholarship awards to graduates of Kansas high schools.

In 2003, the Huck Boyd Institute for Rural Development named Borck its leader of the year.
His contributions to the cattle industry were highlighted at the NCBA convention in 2009 when Borck was a Vision Award winner, which recognizes individuals in the cattle industry who have incorporated innovation into their operation that has enhanced not only their business but also the industry as a whole.

Borck is described as forward-thinking in all aspects of life and has been quoted as saying, “There is a reason the rear-view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big.”

MAB Plans 5th International Trip for France, Italy, Switzerland in August 2012

Switzerland is one of the stops on the 2012 MAB international tour. Participants will also visit France and Italy.(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By Mary Bowen, Master of Agribusiness

The Master of Agribusiness program is planning its fifth international trip for Aug. 1-13, 2012, and will tour France, Italy and Switzerland. The tour will focus on agriculture in the European Union and is open to anyone interested in learning about the food and agriculture industry in the region.

Stops will include crop and cattle farms, dairies, cheese-making operations, wineries and olive groves, as well as professional visits to agricultural and food related industries. Guided sightseeing tours will be arranged along with free time to explore Rome and Paris.

Agriculture in the European Union
France is the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter, after the United States, with more than 70 percent of its exports of wine, beverages, wheat, meat, and dairy products going to other EU countries. The high quality of the nation’s agricultural products contributes to the excellence of its famous cuisine.

The land and climate in Italy is well-suited for raising fruits, vegetables and grain crops. The northern part of Italy primarily produces grains, sugar beets, soybeans, meat, and dairy products, while the south specializes in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. Most farms are small, with the average being around seven hectares.

Switzerland is known as the land of cows, with three-quarters of the farmed area devoted to meadows and pastures, as climate and terrain make most of the country unsuitable for crops. Cereals and vegetables are limited to the lowlands.

These three countries provide different views of the agricultural industry. We hope you will join us as we explore all the region has to offer. A tentative itinerary and pricing are available at For more information, contact Mary Bowen, or 785-532-4435.

Become a Better Farm Manager with MAST

Enroll now for the Management, Analysis and Strategic Thinking program. The winter workshop includes two interactive on-campus sessions starting Nov. 15-16, 2011, and concluding Feb. 21-22, 2012.

Between on-campus sessions, participants also complete self-paced online video modules on the topics of land, machinery, finanical analysis human resources, risk management, taxes and policies, and livestock and grain marketing.

Pricing and enrollment is posted on

KFMA Introduces New Area Economists

The Kansas Farm Management Association welcomes the following area economists.

Scott Laird

Scott Laird, Southwest
Scott Laird grew up farming in Knoxville, Iowa, raising hogs and purebred Limousin cattle. In 1986 he graduated from MidAmerica Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. He returned home to farm with his in-laws and operate a livestock sale barn. He completed a master’s degree in agricultural education at Iowa State University in 1994.

Laird spent 18 years at MidAmerica Nazarene University teaching agribusiness courses and managing the university farm. He and his wife Tammy have three grown sons and a daughter-in-law. He enjoys reading, running and sports.


Travis Heiman

Travis Heiman, Northeast
Travis Heiman is originally from Baileyville, Kan., where his family still raises corn and soybeans. They also feed Holstein heifers for a neighbor.

He earned an associate’s degree in agribusiness from Cloud County Community College in 2001. In 2003, Heiman earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science with an emphasis in business and master of agribusiness in 2011, both from Kansas State University.

Prior to joining KFMA, he worked with Dairy Farmers of America in Kansas City, Mo. He and his wife Julie have two daughters. He enjoys spending time with his family and watching sports.

Ag Management, Economics Grad Fellowships Offered

K-State Agricultural Economics will offer new graduate fellowships next year in agricultural management and economics with emphasis on resource economics and alternative energy.

The fellowships are funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) National Needs Graduate Fellowship Program.

Paid assistantships will be awarded to outstanding students entering the M.S. and Ph.D.  programs during Spring 2012 or Fall 2012.

These unique fellowships will prepare graduates to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams addressing the production of biofuels and other renewable energy from agricultural feedstocks and its interface with the environment and rural economy.

For more information contact Jeff Williams at Jeff Peterson, associate professor, Jason Bergtold, assistant professor, and Michael Langemeier, professor, all of agricultural economics, were also instrumental in obtaining funding.

2nd Animal Health Industry Seminar Set for Oct. 11 at K-State Olathe

An upcoming seminar will address USDA regulations in the animal health industry. (Photo courtesy K-State College of Veterinary Medicine.)

The Department of Agricultural Economics will host a luncheon seminar on animal health regulations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the K-State Olathe Campus.

The seminar, the second in the Animal Health Corridor Lecture Series, will address USDA regulations for the animal health industry.

Speakers will include Dr. Byron Rippke, director of policy, evaluation and licensing for the USDA APHIS’ Center for Veterinary Biologics, and Dr. Carol Rinehart, director of poultry and cattle vaccines research and development for CEVA Biomune.

“Regulatory compliance is critical in our current environment,” said Kara Ross, research assistant professor and program leader. “Animal health industry professionals have continually expressed the need to have more access to expertise and resources regarding regulatory affairs.”

The newly formed Animal Health Supply Chain Program helps animal health organizations improve credibility through regulatory compliance. As a result, companies are able to increase competitiveness and create more job opportunities, Ross said.

Ticket information is available online at under Events. RSVP by Oct. 3. Tickets include lunch.

For more information, contact Dr. Kara Ross at (785) 532-3536 or

EPA Recommends K-State Watershed Plan

Wikimedia Commons

The Lower Big Blue and Lower Little Blue Rivers are part of a watershed draining into Tuttle Creek Lake. The EPA recently commended a watershed plan by staff from the K-State Office of Local Government.

A watershed plan for two Kansas rivers has been recognized as one of the nation’s best, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Staff from the Office of Local Government in K-State’s Department of Agricultural Economics helped develop a watershed plan for the Lower Big Blue and Lower Little Blue Rivers, a transboundary watershed in northern Kansas and southern Nebraska. The watershed drains into Tuttle Creek Lake, a flood control reservoir near Manhattan, Kan. The lake is impaired by phosphorus, total suspended solids and atrazine.

The EPA review states, “While the plan only addresses Kansas’ portion of the watershed, it is overall an excellent watershed-based plan. Every required component was fully addressed, and the information for components B-I were presented in an especially effective manner. The tables and maps made the information easy to read and digest and all of the information was tied back to meeting the goals of the plan; there was little extraneous information. It was also one of the few plans that included a brief explanation of the model used in the analysis, including why the model was selected, major assumptions, and data sources used.”

The review goes on to state, “Overall, the Lower Big Blue/Lower Little Blue River plan was one of the best reviewed, and it provides an excellent example of how to develop and write a watershed based plan.”

Staff members cooperating on the plan development include Josh Roe and Robert Wilson of the Office of Local Government in K-State Agricultural Economics, Sue Brown of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE) and Aleksey Sheshukov of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

20th Symposium Examines Issues in Cooperative Finance

Brian Briggeman, ACCC director, shares his vision for the center’s future during a luncheon at the 20th Symposium on Cooperative Issues Aug. 30.

By Seleise Barrett, Arthur Capper Cooperative Center

The Arthur Capper Cooperative Center held its 20th Symposium on Cooperative Issues Aug. 30 at the K-State Alumni Center. More than 115 people attended the forum to learn about “Innovative Approaches to Cooperative Finance.”

David Barton, retiring director of the ACCC, kicked off the program sharing his expertise on income distribution and balance sheet management strategies. He was followed by a leading tax expert, Teree Castanias CPA, and a leading banking expert, Amy Gales, executive vice president of CoBank.

New ACCC director Brian Briggeman shared his vision for the future of the center during the luncheon. Cooperative scholarship students also were recognized.

The afternoon was filled with in-depth case studies on different financial planning decisions made by local cooperatives in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.