More than 250 farmers, ranchers, ag professionals and local business professionals gathered on May 9 to recognize some of the best and brightest individuals in Colorado agriculture. The reception was held to recognize the inaugural class of the Who’s Who in Agriculture a joint program between the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Denver Business Journal highlighting excellence in Colorado’s agriculture industry.

The first of its kind program recognized 41 individuals and families that are the movers and shakers of the state’s second-largest industry. Participants included ag producers, CEO’s, lawyers and other individuals who provide leadership and influence in the industry and are true Who’s Who in Agriculture.

“We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome,” said Shawn Martini, Vice President of Advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau. “This was a great first class of honorees that really showcased the industry’s best and brightest. We are already excited about next year’s program.”

View the Honorees


The reception, held at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa in downtown Denver, featured a networking hour and an “armchair discussion” with former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack and Chief Operating Officer of Ardent Mills, Bill Stouffer. In a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Greg Avery of the Denver Business Journal, the pair touched on topics ranging from technology in agriculture, trade and climate change, to immigration, farm policy and the ag economy.

The program also featured a speech from Robert Sakata of Sakata Farms in Brighton. The Sakata family was recognized with the Trailblazer Award for longstanding and dedicated leadership and service to the agriculture industry. Robert discussed the things he felt helped propel his farm to one of the top producers in the state but was careful to explain that the ag industry is full of talented and dedicated leaders.

“Its amazing to look at the accomplishments everyone in this room has had,” he said.

Created by the Colorado Farm Bureau and the Denver Business Journal, the Who’s Who in Agriculture was the first of its kind in the country and recognized individuals whose position, knowledge or expertise guides the agricultural sector. Nominees were accepted from any agricultural field, including (but not limited to) crop production, livestock production, water, education, biotech, agribusiness and food/nutrition.