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Working together for success

Spring brings to mind a quote attributed to a relatively young Babe Ruth. During his ascendence in the Major League, Ruth said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.”

I find the quote to be particularly apt in March as I drive to MFA’s district meetings. Sure, the grass is breaking dormancy, and spring training is underway at the time, so I might be mentally preparing for baseball season. But the more powerful reason the quote comes to mind is that I see MFA in action at these meetings. I see a team working toward success.

Our district meetings are a fun­damental instrument of the cooper­ative. They provide an opportunity for MFA leaders and staff to interact directly with members. While the meetings require a lot of driving to cover the trade territory in a week, I can tell you it’s something we look forward to—especially after the dis­ruption of a pandemic. It allows us to make connections with you that only happen in person. They bring MFA members and board members together with company leadership and staff to discuss the state of the cooperative and its plans to provide solutions for your farm.

From a cooperative governance perspective, district meetings are the venue for delegates from your area to elect corporate board members. The 14 individuals on that board are your member-owner representatives at MFA Incorporated. This year, we welcomed a new director, Gary McClure of Lebanon, Mo., who will represent District 13. He fills the seat vacated by Wayne Nichols, who retired due to term limits.

In other districts, non-contested incumbents Frank Schieber of Stanberry was re-elected to repre­sent District 1; Craig Lambert of Pattonsburg in District 4; Dwayne Schad of Versailles in District 8; and Don Schlesselman of Concordia in District 5. Don is also the new chairman of the board.

Along with elections, district meetings are a chance for MFA staff to discuss agriculture trends and the knowledge and resources your cooperative is using to benefit its members.

As we met in March, drought had receded from most of MFA’s trade territory but remained entrenched in southeast Kansas. At the meet­ings, MFA Range and Pasture Specialist David Moore and Con­servation Grazing Specialist Landry Jones talked about how landowners can fortify their grazing operations against drought. Their perspective focused on diversifying forages and managing grazing and fertility. I hope we won’t have to discuss this topic as the year progresses, but even in non-drought years, these tactics can improve livestock perfor­mance. If you have a chance to hear David or Landry speak, it’s worth your time.

MFA Manager of Animal Health Dr. Tony Martin provided an update on the coming final rule of the Vet­erinary Feed Directive. Dr. Martin explained that, ultimately, the rule means the loss of our ability to carry antibiotics commonly used to treat issues such as pinkeye, calf scours, infections and other respiratory diseases.

Dr. Martin also explained the ramifications of proposed EPA restrictions on a range of rodenti­cides, which, if finalized as written, will significantly alter how you can control rodents.

Regulatory pressures like these, along with issues like the yet-to-be-settled Waters of the United States rule and upcoming farm bill are reminders that as agribusinesses and farmers, nothing we do happens in a vacuum. We are affected by outside factors that can seem out of our control.

MFA personnel also recently par­ticipated in the Agricultural Retailers Association’s fly-in to Washington, D.C. Participants were briefed by partner associations such as The Fertilizer Institute, CropLife Ameri­ca and others. The trip benefited ag retailers and farmers as ARA lined up a slate of senior officials from key regulatory agencies and congressio­nal committees to field questions related to the farm bill and issues such as WOTUS. These in-person opportunities are a favorable way to advocate on behalf of agriculture.

When I opened this column, I omitted the second part of Babe Ruth’s quote. He said, “You may have the greatest bunch of individ­ual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

I’ll close by saying that MFA intends to work in concert with your efforts and succeed as a team. We’re at the beginning of a new season with all its promise. Good luck out there. And we’ll be here.

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