Q&A with MFA

This is the second in a series of interviews with MFA Incorporated’s board of directors to help members get to better know their cooperative’s leadership. In this edition, we’re featuring Barry Kagay, District 1 director from Amity in north­west Missouri, where he and his family operate a row-crop and beef cattle farm.

When you look at MFA’s values statement, which one means the most to you and why?

Empowering employees to take initiative and serve our members is important. One of the strengths of our system is that we give our employees the ability to adapt to what people in their area need depending on current condi­tions. That allows them to respond to market or weather situations as quickly as a company our size can. It’s also important that MFA stays successful for our local commu­nities, to help to keep them financially healthy and provide vital products and services to producers in the area, who may not have other reliable choices for their farm inputs. It’s especially important that MFA remain successful in the smaller local communities. Many of them are struggling and need a stable source of employment and a way to bring more income into these towns. Having a strong busi­ness or two is critical to the well-being of many rural areas.

We just went through an unprecedented spring rush. What would you say positions MFA to meet those challenges like no other company out there?

This spring has been exceptionally tough for getting ground prepared, fertilized, and crop protection put on with the wet winter and early spring. MFA has been one of the few businesses in our area that has been able to keep fertilizer available because of the storage and facilities we have and because of employees with foresight and the desire to go the extra mile to make sure the members get our crops planted in a timely manner.

In addition to the compressed spring, the past year has been stressful in many ways for farmers in MFA territory. How can MFA help our members through times like these?

As farmers, we know we can count on MFA when things are difficult or the weather doesn’t cooperate. MFA has the infrastructure and experience to keep us in the prod­ucts we need and also provide good current advice on growing crops or livestock—in good times and bad.

MFA’s sales structure has recently gone through some pretty major changes. As a director and farm­er, how do you feel these changes will better serve our members and the company?

The new sales structure has been a pretty drastic change in how we do business, but I think it should position us to compete into the future. Change is always hard, and some tough decisions were made, but you can’t keep do­ing things the same way without getting left behind. With the new structure, MFA should be in a good position to take care of our customers and go after new business.

You’re coming up on 12 years on the MFA board. What have you learned about MFA during your tenure as director that you might not have learned without the closer involvement?

After being on the board nearly 12 years, I have learned that from the top to the bottom MFA employees really want to do a good job for the members and help the company succeed. It is good to see management and employees all pulling together to get the job done. I also learned just how many different things MFA is involved in and the size of this company. It has been a wonderful experience for me. All of the board members are good, dedicated people who care about the future of MFA. I would tell anyone who has an interest in our company to get involved at whatever level you can to help guide the cooperative.

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