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Agricultural Business Council to Honor Two Local Leaders
Kansas Ag Connection - 03/21/2023

The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City will honor two of the region’s leading agricultural figures on May 18 at a luncheon in the Chamber Board Room in Kansas City’s historic Union Station. The honorees will receive the Council’s highest award, the Jay B. Dillingham Award for Agricultural Leadership and Excellence.

Agricultural Business Council Chairman Dustin Johansen notes the honorees are champions for agriculture in separate but very key areas in the region. The 2023 honorees are Dr. Marty Vanier, K-State National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, Manhattan, Kansas, and Blake Hurst, owner, Hurst Farms and retired president of Missouri Farm Bureau.

Dr. Marty Vanier, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Dr. Marty Vanier is the director of the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center (NABC) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. She has deep roots in Kansas agriculture where she grew up on a prominent family ranch in central Kansas that raised commercial and registered Hereford cattle. In her professional life, she has held several leadership positions in the veterinary pharmaceutical and food safety areas.

She received her undergraduate and graduate (D.V.M.) degrees from Kansas State University. She began her career in Washington, DC, with the Animal Health Institute and later joined USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service as deputy director for Information and Legislative Affairs. In 1987, she returned to K-State as part of the Food Safety Consortium in the University’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. She later served for seven years as executive director of the Kansas Agricultural Alliance.

In June of 2003 Dr. Vanier moved from the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry to the KSU National Agricultural Biosecurity Center. Later she joined the NBAF Program Executive Office as Director of Strategic Partnership Development. She returned to the NABC in 2019 as its director. In that role she directs the development, coordination, implementation and leveraging of a broad range of programs and capabilities addressing diverse threats to the US and world agricultural economies and food supply. She serves as the liaison between the NABC and national, state and local stakeholders and allied industry groups.

Dr. Vanier has received a number of awards for her distinguished service. She was awarded the President’s Award in 2002, 2012, and 2014 and the 2009 Veterinarian of the Year Award from the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association. In addition, in 2017 she was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She was honored by the U.S. Army War College in 2017 by being named to the Commandant’s National Security Program.

Blake Hurst, Hurst Farms, Westboro, MO

Blake Hurst retired as president of Missouri Farm Bureau after serving in that role for 10 years. Prior to serving as president, Blake served as vice president, and as a district board member. At Hurst Farms, Blake raises corn and soybeans with his family. He also operates a wholesale greenhouse business with his wife, Julie; daughter, Lee; and sons-in-law, Ryan Harms and Matt Schlueter. The family raises flowers in two and a half acres of greenhouses. Hurst is a free-lance writer, with his essays appearing on Agri-Pulse as well as other national publications.

During Blake’s time as Missouri Farm Bureau President he served on the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group’s AMAC, and the FTC Precision Ag Task Force.


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