MFA to unveil a tribute to farmers and ranchers on MFA Century Plaza
This month MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company will unveil a statue dedicated to the farmers and ranchers who built us. It will stand on a small area (named MFA Century Plaza) located between the two sister cooperatives. That placement is strategic–and symbolic.
Last summer, executives of MFA Oil Company approached us with an idea. Jerry Taylor, president and CEO, and Benny Farrell, chairman of the board, wanted to make a meaningful gesture to help recognize MFA’s 100th year. MFA Century Plaza grew out of those talks.
While MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company are different companies with different management and separate boards of directors, the companies share common histories and values. What’s more, the companies share a common membership, and, I would venture to say, a common family ethic.
As Jerry Taylor points out so well: “The cooperative values of these two great organizations provide the framework to work together to bring value to the communities that we serve.” It’s a sentiment both he and Benny Farrell share. Benny also has served on the MFA Incorporated board and proudly acknowledges a common heritage for the two organizations.
MFA Incorporated Board Chairman Don Mills also has been involved in the MFA Century Plaza. From his perspective, both cooperatives are forever linked in farmers’ minds despite being separate companies. “Both serve many of the same individuals and do so proudly. Executives of both cooperatives understand their roles in history and the importance of that history in today’s world.”
MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil were formed with the farmer/owner in mind. Both have individually contributed millions of dollars in scholarships to rural youth and the communities in which both do business. And again, both share common values and philosophies.
MFA’s value system was seconded in an unexpected place in late October. As part of the University of Missouri’s executive-in-residence program, I was part of a panel discussion centered on
MFA’s 100-year history.
In the audience participation that followed, Don Duello, past president of Shelter Insurance Companies, rose to publicly acknowledge the positive MFA values that to this day infuse the culture of Shelter. I take that as high praise and sincerely appreciate the compliment. By way of background, MFA created MFA Insurance Company in 1946. MFA Insurance Company separated from MFA and became Shelter Insurance in the early 1980s.
On March 10, MFA’s official 100th birthday, we’re planning a dedication ceremony that will feature the corporate boards of both MFA Oil and MFA Incorporated. MFA Century Plaza will prominently feature the statue and a plaque with these words:
“MFA grew from a 1914 meeting in which seven farmers combined orders to increase market power. MFA became an economic force to help farm families improve their economic destiny. Along the way, MFA created many companies, from insurance to dairy to genetics, which still thrive.
“Today, MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company provide products, services and facilities developed with the cooperatives’ owners foremost in mind.
“This monument celebrates MFA’s 100th anniversary and both cooperatives’ dedication to providing economic strength to the farm families who own them.”
The next time you are in Columbia, please stop by to visit this plaza. After all, it’s in celebration of you, the farmers and ranchers who built us.
Bill Streeter is MFA Incorporated's President and CEO. READ MORE HERE BY BILL STREETER