Last week was a big week for Land O’Lakes, Inc. As part of our 98th Annual Meeting we conducted our annual business, provided a rundown of our 2018 performance and shared some of the stories that make our cooperative system so special.
The co-op’s Elected Leaders also conducted elections where we named six newly elected and re-elected Board Directors. And following longtime Board Chairman Pete Kappelman’s term on the Board of Directors coming to an end, we also have a new Board Chairman.
See below to learn more about each of these leaders of our cooperative.
New Board Chairman
Rick Brand – Somers, IA
Rick Brand started farming 80 acres in 1982 while he was still in college. Today, Brand’s operation consists of 2,300 acres of corn and soybeans. He also owns and operates a tax and accounting business, specializing in farm businesses.
Before being elected as chairman in 2019, Brand served as first vice chairman for four years and has served on the Land O’Lakes leadership board since 2010.
Brand is a former director on the Prairie Valley School Board and has served on the Farmers Cooperative Board for 12 years, including serving as president for four years and as a member of the executive board for eight years.
He and his wife Maureen have three children.
Region 2 - Producer
Neal Keppy, River Valley Cooperative - Elridge, IA
Neal Keppy, along his brother and business partner, manages River Valley Cooperative, a 2,500-acre diversified farm that produces corn, soybeans and custom finishes 10,000 hogs per year. They also own and operate a custom farming business that primarily does tillage, anhydrous ammonia application and planting on 20,000 acres for other farmers.
Keppy has over 19 years of experience working to manage a productive and growing farm business from the ground up. He also has been very active in leading his local cooperative on the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. He has financial acumen and understands how to strategically plan for responsible growth. He is also fluent in risk management and mitigation for cooperatives.
As an active and engaged husband and father, he believes that the best crop he has raised, alongside his wife, are his four children and that leading and mentoring all children is crucial to a prosperous society. Keppy enjoys giving school tours of the farm and spending time volunteer coaching for multiple youth sports teams.
Region 3 – Producer
Bruce Holland, Farmers Cooperative – Greenwood, AR
Agriculture has been a part of the Holland family in Western Arkansas for over 200 years. Today, Bruce Holland, along with his brother and father, help raise commercials beef cattle at Farmers Cooperative, a 1,200-acre farm.
In addition to helping to run the family farm, Holland has over 24 years of leadership experience with positions on several boards throughout Arkansas. From 2010-2014, he spent time as an elected official in the Arkansas Senate. Through this he learned the intricacies of state government and built his connections within the community where he lived and worked. He has built connections within the state and federal government system, working directly to solve problems, listen carefully and problem-solve policy issues. While elected, he served as Chairman on several committees including the Senate Agriculture Committee, Forestry and Economic Development Committees and participated on several other committees.
In 2014, Holland served on the Governor’s cabinet as executive director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. During this time, the committee worked efficiently and strategically to reduce the effects of a state case of avian flu. The model they used was praised by the USDA and the Poultry Federation. He currently serves another cabinet position as the executive director of the Arkansas National Resources Commission. In this role he manages conservation, water resources and water development for the state. When completed these projects will represent more than one billion dollars in infrastructure for Arkansas farmers.
Region 4 – Manager
Jeff Troike (incumbent), Ceres Solutions Cooperative – Crawfordsville, IN
Jeff Troike is the current President and CEO of Ceres Solutions Cooperative, a diverse agricultural, energy, grain and supply cooperative. The organization recently has a successful merger with another large cooperative, North Central Co-op. The transition was smooth, and each partner brought strengths to one another as well as a shared vision and values.
Troike has over 33 years of leadership management to local cooperatives, growing each enterprise with the support of his outstanding teams. Together they've strengthened their position as a viable,
relevant business partners able to meet the changing needs of their customers. In addition, Troike has served as chairman and trustee of the Cooperative pension and savings plan since 2001. He has valued working alongside others who are charged to be stewards of these critical programs on behalf of thousands of ag industry workers and families, past and present.
Since 2010, he has served as a Land O’Lakes Board Director and continues to enjoy the opportunity to challenge ourselves in a collective drive towards continuous improvement and industry leadership. He strives to complement the insights and abilities of his fellow Board Members with his varied business management, financial and collaborative leadership experiences.
Levi Ransom (incumbent) – Nicholson, PA
Levi Ransom has worked on a Holstein farm his entire life and has owned and operated since 1987. Alongside his wife who handles farm financials, one full-time employee and six part-time employees, the operation consists of 100 milking Holsteins and 80 replacement heifers where cows are milked in a stall barn. They are fed a TMR mixture of corn, haylage, feed and mineral supplement.
In addition to running the farm, Ransom was the Lehigh Valley and Atlantic Dairy Co-op delegate for Land O'Lakes unit delegate from 1998 to 2010. He also served on ADADC Board and was a past director of the Susquehanna FSA board.
Ransom is a past president of the county extension board and has served in one church for 40 years in various positions and has been attending on the board of deacons for four years and is also a member of the Gideons.
Finally, he has served as a Land O’Lakes Board Director for the past seven years and has enjoyed continuing to learn and develop his leadership skills.
Dan Siemers – Newton, WI
Siemers Holsteins is a fifth-generation family business that had its start in 1890. Owned now by Dan Siemers, the operation now consists of 2,700 cows and 5,500 farmed acres. Siemers’ leadership team has built the farm into one of the most productive and high-quality dairy and crop farms anywhere. This can be attributed to taking proper care of their people, cattle and land while paying attention to neighbors and the environment
He brings practical business sense and a lifetime of dairying and farming knowledge to the Land O’Lakes Board. In addition, Siemers is the founding and currently members of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW), a current member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, an active alumnus of FFA – Howards Grove chapter, current 4-H dairy leader and member of Holstein Associations USA.
Xavier Avila (incumbent) – Laton, CA
Xavier and his wife Susy are partners with Rick and Michelle Adams on their operation that milks 70 Holstein cows and replacements in Laton, California.
Serving on the Land O’Lakes Board since 2011, Xavier Avila helped win support for the United Supplies merger and for California to join the Federal Milk Marketing Order.
Avila served as California Dairy Campaign president He also currently serves on the California Dairy Cares Board and Justice Fund Board. He works diligently to help protect the California dairy industry.
In addition, Avila works as a regional sales manager for Hampell and serves as a district board of trustee for the Tulare local health care district and board chairman for the Tulare Public Cemetery. He has served on a variety of leadership councils for Region 80 since 2001.