MFA’s corporate board directors get an in-depth look at American agriculture
First of all, I hope I see many of you at our district delegate meetings throughout MFA’s trade territory, some of which have will have already occurred when you receive this March edition of Today’s Farmer. The meetings run from Feb. 27 through March 2.
These meetings are scheduled to cover a variety of topics, many tailored to specific areas. But overall, our plant foods staff will present an overview of domestic and international fertilizer production and distribution points.
MFA Vice President of Feed and Animal Health Dr. Alan Wessler will present brood-cow feed nutrition and its impact on offspring and profitability for the producer. Dr. Wessler’s presentation gives an excellent overview of the long-term picture.
In many areas, Dr. Jason Weirich, MFA’s new director of agronomy, will discuss the change brought about by the evolution of glyphosate resistant weeds. Dr. Weirich will discuss options producers have now as well as future technologies and problems presented in weed control.
Elections are a central part of these meetings, making them essential if you want to have a hand in your cooperative’s direction. As part of MFA’s corporate board, directors play an active role in MFA’s direction. You elect those directors.
MFA’s corporate board members are strong businessmen with operations requiring constant hands-on management. That they are willing and able to participate in MFA’s governance is a testament to their interest and leadership qualities.
At MFA, we rely on their expertise, management experience and business competence. Please thank these individuals for their participation. I assure you they do not serve on MFA’s corporate board for the money.
MFA’s directors receive no salary, only a per diem, expenses and mileage. In no way is board service a lucrative position. Truly, their service is for the best of intentions: to keep MFA in the forefront of today’s agriculture, serving farmers and ranchers.
In taking my own advice, I want to thank Phil Becker, a corporate director representing District 7. Phil and his brother farm 2,000 acres of row crops as well as hay outside of Mexico, Mo.
He also has cattle and hogs. Phil is stepping down from the board this year because of term limits. He’s been on MFA’s corporate board since 2000.
All of us here at MFA will miss Phil’s service, judgment and sound business sense. Thank you, Phil. You’ve been an excellent board member.
As I said above, at MFA we rely heavily on our board. It is to our benefit to provide training for new and current directors. No matter how experienced and business-savvy a new board member is, it takes a minimum of two years to get up to speed on the extent of MFA’s business activities.
As such, we provide board training. We take our directors on two training events most years. During the summers, we take a few days to tour MFA locations in different parts of our territory. There is no substitute to seeing cotton and rice infrastructure when a director participates in decisions involving MFA operations in our Mid-South market area.
In the same manner, row-crop farmers benefit tremendously by seeing the extent of MFA feed mill operations as well as our state-of-the-art facilities in beef, poultry and pork areas. It is the same for directors involved almost exclusively in the livestock business seeing our row-crop operations.
Another trip MFA directors participate in involves other aspects of agricultural production, as in trips to fertilizer production facilities in the Gulf or, as in this past winter’s board trip to California’s Imperial County.
Imperial County, in 2010, had a gross production of $1.6 billion. Its top 10 commodities include in order: cattle, leaf lettuce, alfalfa, head lettuce, onions, broccoli, sugar beets, carrots, cantaloupes and sudangrass.
Imperial Valley and close-by valleys are referred to as America’s salad bowl for good reason. And this past year’s board trip showed our directors the bounty of American agriculture outside their traditional areas of expertise. Imperial County accounts for $809 million worth of vegetable and melon crops as well as $51 million of fruit and nut crops.
While head lettuce and carrots are not and will not be dominant crops in MFA’s trade territory, MFA’s board of directors benefited from seeing the grower and business infrastructure supporting those activities. It’s all part of the educational process of making excellent businessmen well-informed corporate board members.
Bill Streeter is President and CEO of MFA Incorporated.