Throughout the year, I've traveled across the country to visit member-owners, ag-retail owners, and plant facilities with an important message: Our success starts with member success, and together we can solve important challenges facing rural America.
As a farmer-owned cooperative, the connection between the work of Land O’Lakes and the family farm are intertwined. They inspire each other and serve as a consistent voice for the agriculture community.
Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford with Land O’Lakes Board Member Evan Hillan of Rusk Rose Holsteins in Ladysmith, WI.
At Land O’Lakes, our work displays the full spectrum of food production, from the members who generate products that feed and fuel the world, to the plant facilities where the highest quality products are generated for the market, and to the strength of the business that supports their success. It brings me joy and pride to work with a team of people who deliver every day for our member owners.
The cooperative model and our enterprise approach create a virtuous circle that has holistic benefits. Our structure offers members a wide range of services that include direct business support on-farm or at an ag retail operation, and through industry advocacy, and individual development in key areas like market access or sustainability efforts. In turn, members offer their products, industry expertise, perspective, and wide-ranging impact in their communities.
CEO of Sunrise Cooperative Inc. George Secor, Vice President of Winfield United Sales Leah Anderson, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes Beth Ford and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Sunrise Cooperative Inc. and Land O’Lakes board member Doug Swaim in Cedarville, Ohio.
As I've travelled, visiting our member-owners and ag-retail owners, I am always struck by the sheer commitment our farm families have to their generational legacy. They aren't just feeding and fueling the world, they are change-agents in their corner of the world. Their impact has a positive ripple effect throughout rural America and beyond. While there is no doubt that there are challenges facing rural communities today, I am confident that our members' perspectives and experience will be integral to solving these issues.
Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford with CEO of River Valley Cooperative Tim Burress and Land O’Lakes board member Neal Keppy of River Valley Cooperative in Eldridge, Iowa.
One constant theme to the conversations that I had during my travels was our shared commitment to a better future for our families, for our communities, and for the agriculture industry. At each stop, whether I was talking with Evan Hillan in Wisconsin on his dairy farm, or in the field with Doug Swaim in Ohio, the common theme was working together to leverage our voice and platform to solve pressing issues.
We discussed addressing water shortages, ensuring access to broadband and healthcare services, expanding economic vibrancy and revitalizing crumbling infrastructure by broadening availability of childcare and housing. We talked ag research funding and its necessity for innovation as we try to deliver improved production and feed a growing world population. Additionally, we touched on the need for market access for farmers. Our cooperative will continue to advocate for agricultural trade policy that empowers the American farmer and increases access to export markets.
Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford visiting the Land O’Lakes dairy plant in Pine Island, Minnesota.
This work starts on the farm, in rural towns, and with our members and their families. It also starts with our business, our plant employees, and the work they do to provide quality products. They have a vital role to play in the communities in which they operate, and our employees play a key role in our mission.
Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford visiting the Land O’Lakes dairy plant in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
This past year, I covered a lot of ground, and visited several of our dairy plants and Purina facilities, including our Pine Island dairy plant in Pine Island, Minnesota, our dairy plant in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Purina Rivergate facility in Portland, Oregon, and the Statesville Purina facility in Statesville, North Carolina. Each of these facilities is committed to a high level of excellence and I enjoyed visiting to discuss our shared goals.
Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford visiting the Purina Statesville Plant in Statesville, North Carolina.
As rural America faces significant challenges, the world is also grappling with heartbreaking conflicts that have already threatened global food security for years to come. Our members and our mission help fill that gap. We believe that food security is national security, and the coordinated effort of our industry helps meet the needs of the world. With that in mind, it is imperative that rural America receives the attention it deserves, and I will continue to lend our voice and our cooperative system to ensure we meet this defining moment.