Measuring up where it matters
Agriculture has undergone many changes since MFA was founded 108 years ago. We have adapted to and often set the pace with changes in production practices, but through our history, there is something we have never changed—our focus on being an advocate for agriculture and being involved in local communities. It’s a focus you can see throughout the organization.
Each year the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) hosts a legislative conference in Washington, D.C. The event provides cooperative board members an opportunity to discuss key issues that affect agriculture and give NCFC insight into the impacts these issues have on producers.
MFA is a member of NCFC and shares its core values—farmer ownership and control in the production and distribution chain, the continued economic viability of America’s farmers and ranchers, stewardship of natural resources, and maintaining vibrant rural communities.
Due to the pandemic, this was the first conference since 2019. And, this year, flight cancellations complicated travel, resulting in only one of the board’s four legislative committee members making the trip. Despite this challenge, face-to-face office visits were scheduled with representatives and senators who serve MFA’s trade area.
We discussed key provisions of the 2023 Farm Bill—risk management tools and trade, Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), and transportation and infrastructure. Our message was to help Congress understand the continued importance of farm policies that promote a healthy and competitive agricultural sector. That starts with providing adequate resources to preserve the capacity of our farms in times of poor production or prices.
Conservation programs have long been a part of the farm bill. Will sustainability be included in 2023? Climate practices and policies continue to garner more attention from various organizations. NCFC is advocating that the USDA be the lead federal agency to determine and oversee climate policies that impact agriculture. A logical choice.
The 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule helped bring certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers about which waters were considered WOTUS while protecting the environment and promoting clean water. The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are pursuing a rewrite of the definition of WOTUS. Our message was to preserve the critical elements of the 2020 rule.
We also discussed infrastructure. Regardless of where you live in our trade area, farm-to-market roads and bridges need a workable plan for permanent funding. We can’t continue to push a solution further down the road.
MFA territory is at the convergence of the nation’s largest interstates and rivers. It is a built-in geographical advantage. To keep it, we need improvements in the river system to support inbound supplies and outbound grain.
Big-picture policy is important, but supporting the success of local agriculture gets to the genesis of a cooperative. Here at home, MFA employees spend countless hours supporting the agricultural industry, youth and local communities. Many MFA employees are also active in commodity groups, Missouri Farmers Care and other industry organizations. We want to see a strong and vibrant rural America.
MFA also provides monetary support in our trade area. The MFA Charitable Foundation supports eligible projects within the geographic area MFA serves. Last year, grants approached $300,000. Grants require an employee sponsor and are available for requests geared toward rural youth, agriculture and cooperative education programs, and community organizations.
The MFA Foundation is a combined effort of MFA Incorporated, MFA Oil Company and our local affiliates. Annual contributions to educational programs are approximately $900,000 with a focus on individual scholarships. The $2,000 one-time scholarship typically ranks as one of the highest awarded in the area. The 2022 recipients are featured in this issue.
The team at MFA doesn’t want to be measured solely by sales volumes and the ability to serve our member-owners. We believe the true measure of a company is what we give back to the industry and communities we serve.
We are experiencing unprecedented volatility and uncertainty right now. Let’s not forget we live in the greatest country in the world. We can all do our part to keep it that way. When I need motivation, I go to Lee Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the USA.” Try it.
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