VALLEY CITY, N.D. – Two new members, Neal Fisher and Tom Borgen, were inducted into the North Dakota Ag Hall of Fame on March 10 during the North Dakota Winter Show at the Valley City Eagles Club. Both men were recognized as a result of their work with two of the prime crops grown within the state.
Neal Fisher is currently the administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission, a position he had held since 1998. In that position, he is responsible for implementing producer-funded programs that ultimately increase the use of North Dakota wheat.
He grew up on his family farming and ranching operation near Tappen, N.D., and continues to have an interest in that operation today. He is a graduate of North Dakota State University and earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees in agricultural economics.
He joined the North Dakota Wheat Commission as a marketing specialist in 1978 and was appointed deputy administrator in 1983. He serves on several committees and has helped develop trade policies and wheat research projects. He is a member of the Joint Trade Policy Committee of the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates, as well as the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
In addition, he is a member of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Advisory Council and he previously served on the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education assisting with the prioritizing, budgeting, and policy-making associated with the research projects and initiatives of the N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension Service.
He and his wife, Deborah, have three grown children and three grandchildren.
Tom Borgen, a retired farmer and past president of the Northern Canola Growers Association, has been very influential in the growth of canola in the state.
He grew up in Hannah, N.D., and worked in the construction industry in the Seattle area before eventually returning home to farm with his father-in-law near Langdon, N.D. One of the crops he introduced to that farm was canola, which he initially delivered to a Canadian crushing plant. He eventually helped establish the canola crushing industry in the U.S.
Borgen was instrumental in getting canola included in federal farm legislation and in getting insurance coverage for the crop. He estimates he made at least 30 trips to Washington, D.C., as well as to various locations in Canada as the industry developed within the state.
During his involvement in developing the crop within the state, he also farmed 1,500 acres and did some custom harvesting work, cutting between 3,000 to 4,500 acres of canola each year.