Local farmer receives lifetime achievement award

By Katie Harris

The Surveyor

It’s been a big year for Berthoud farming legend Bill Markham, owner of M & M Farms. The sugar beet, barley, corn and cattle farmer reaped the fruits of a lifetime of labor in 2017 when he was honored with two distinct awards for his contributions to the agriculture industry.

In February a longtime dream of Markham’s became reality when he was inducted into the Farm Credit Agriculture Hall of Fame.

The Berthoud farmer, who primarily produces barley for Miller Coors, said seeing his picture hanging in the CoBank Center for Agricultural Education at Colorado State University among those of past inductees has been a goal of his since he was on the selection committee for the hall of fame in 1980.

“I always said if there was ever an award in Colorado that I would like to have, that would be it,” said Markham. “I was very, very honored.”

Markham attributes his hall of fame induction not only to his career in agriculture, but to his steadfast commitment to the future of the industry. A staunch supporter of 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA), Markham has spent decades actively supporting local youth in their pursuit of agricultural-based interests, from livestock management to fertilizer science to teaching.

One of his proudest recent accomplishments was the role he played in bringing FFA back to the Thompson School District for the first time since the 1980s. Thanks to the dedication of Markham and a small group of enthusiasts, Berthoud High School and Thompson Valley High School formed a joint FFA chapter in 2015.

“It took me 25 years to get the FFA back into Berthoud and Loveland schools,” said Markham. “At my hall of fame induction [Thompson School District Superintendent Stan Scheer], the agriculture teachers and all the FFA officers were there in their blue and gold jackets. It touched me pretty hard when I saw that.”

As if a hall of fame induction wasn’t enough, Markham was completely surprised a second time in early August, when he received word he had been named BizWest’s 2017 Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Honoree – an honor based on “a long career of commitment to the region’s growth and well-being of its business community, entrepreneurship and successful business endeavors,” according to www.bravoentrepreneur.com.

The award was made all the sweeter to Markham because it was achieved through work in agriculture. The Berthoud farmer was only the third agriculture entrepreneur to receive the honor since its conception in 1998.

“It’s really hard to be in the [agriculture] business, especially here in this community right now,” said Markham. “A lot of the farm ground is being sold for development. All you’ve got to do is drive down the road anymore and there are not many farmers still in business. We are one of the few.”

Markham said damaging hail storms, water scarcity, and low commodity prices create constant challenges for farmers.

“We’ve faced a lot of hard years,” said Markham of himself, his wife and their two grown children who continue to farm in the area with their own families. “To be successful you have to set a goal and you have to work hard. You’re not going to be vacationing every weekend. It takes a commitment from the whole family that you’re not going to throw in the towel.”

 

While two distinctive awards in one year only serve to sweeten the deal for Markham, quitting was never an option anyway.

“We keep going just like we always do. We’re not going to sell out. I’m not going to quit. My family’s not going to quit. We love what we do, and we’ll still be here for as long as we can.”

 

 

 

 

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