"I came to MFA a little bit shy of eight years ago when I replaced someone retiring as director of grain operations. I came from another company, and that individual was serving on the Country Elevator Committee. I had been an NGFA member but was not involved. Joining MFA really was my introduction to the association.
“To put it bluntly, it was a little stale at first, at least the Country Elevator Committee side of it. When I joined the committee, we were still doing things in an old-fashioned way. But there were some new individuals on the committee who were opening up and wanted to change some things. And after I started listening to them, I became more vocal and tried to make changes to get more young people in the association. This work invigorated me and led me to get more involved in NGFA.
“I was named a member of the Board of Directors. I just finished my second three-year term (you can only serve two consecutive terms for a total of six years). I was Country Elevator Committee chairman for two years as well.
For MFA, given that we represent about 80 elevators, we wanted to be involved in the country elevator side. So my involvement helped the company and its members.
“When I first became involved with NGFA, it didn’t take long for me to see how much the association is tapped into the political scene. There are a lot of big companies that have their own lobbyists but NGFA is not looked at as a lobby group by Congress or the Senate. They’re well respected as a grain and feed industry advocate.
“As far as benefits of membership, number one, NGFA gives our company a lot of insight into the regulatory side of things – what is coming, what might be changing, and helping us understand some of the things already out there affecting our industry.
“Personally, it has enabled me to meet new people within the industry from coast to coast and all types of companies. You get a good overview of the entire ag industry across the United States, not just in my isolated area of Missouri. It’s helpful to know what’s going on in other areas.”
“Unlike many others, I was introduced to this excellent, well-managed organization as a youngster. I remember attending my first NGFA events in the ‘90s as my father served and contributed to furthering the mission of NGFA. The most memorable experience I have was attending an annual convention in San Diego, CA at Hotel Del Coronado as a youngster. This event helped to shape and mold my perspective of how large the world of agriculture is in regard to opportunities. At that point, my father, David, served as a feed manager for a cooperative based in Kansas.
“Fast forward to 2016, and I was given the opportunity to share the same experience at Hotel Del Coronado with my daughter at the annual convention. To date, Rylee has attended four-plus annual conventions with her father, and she is only in the third grade. It always has been important to me that we continue to make future generations aware of the great opportunities that exist in this industry. Since beginning my career in the grain and feed industry in 2003, each organization and institution that I have been associated with has always found value in becoming members of this great association.
“One of my passions is to transfer knowledge and information to others in a manner that moves this industry forward – NGFA does that, plain and simple.
“Currently, we serve as chairman for the Feed Manufacturing and Technology Committee. Also, we have seats on the Feed Regulatory and Legislative Affairs and Safety, Health and Environmental Quality Committee. In the past, we have served on the Biofuels Committee and Trade Rules Committee. We serve also as an industry advisor for NGFA on behalf of the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
“As far as what I like best about NGFA, first and foremost, the staff. Second, the ability to have a reaching impact on agriculture both here at home and throughout the country. Third, the peers and friends who work on a daily basis to ensure the grain and feed industry continues to grow, prosper, and improve the world.
“NGFA is a top-notch organization. Anyone associated with agriculture, no matter the size of the company, can find great benefit in membership. These benefits include the ability to impact legislative and regulatory issues locally and nationally, as well as utilizing NGFA’s trade rules and arbitration system.”
“I’ve been in the grain business for 43 years, but I actually first got involved with NGFA in the 1980s when I joined a committee. I went to my first convention in 1991. Later, I joined the Risk Management Committee and then became chairman of that committee. Eventually, I was selected for the board and later became NGFA chairman.
“I worked for a large grain company, Continental Grain, and it supported the association. That support, in turn, helped the company gain a voice in the industry.
“As I became increasingly involved with the association, I started to realize just how effective it is.
“What I like best about NGFA is that it gives you a voice, access to information, and it’s particularly helpful for a smaller company. When I left Continental Grain, I joined Nidera, a midsize Dutch company with no assets in the United States at the time. As general manager of a small staff, having access to information about key issues in the industry, it became quite valuable.
“Later, the association announced a five-year plan, and they came up with an idea to initiate the Apprentice program. Well, for me as a general manager of a smaller business and now adding employees, it was a wonderful opportunity to gain exposure for our company. We immediately got a number of people on the list to be apprentices. We ended up having two apprentices in the first year of the program, and then we’ve kind of grown from there.
“Today, we have a small organization with about 40 grain employees in the United States, but we we have had someone on the Administration Committee, Risk Committee, Country Elevator Committee, Rail Ship Receiver Committee, and Safety and Health Committee. We have had a number of our young, high-potential employees on NGFA committees, so they’ve been able to learn from others and gain experience. It has been a wonderful opportunity.
“I have recommended NGFA to many people. I suggest membership because it’s an association that’s an objective advocate for members, and it’s a great value for the service that you’re getting. I think the world of the association, and the committee structure is spectacular. It gets members engaged, and it’s efficient. I find it to be an amazing process that is sustainable, and we’ve seen that over time with more members despite a consolidating industry, so it’s really quite impressive.”
Reprinted from Grain Journal July/August 2019 Issue
View this case study and more in the Grain Journal July August 2019 magazine.