I’m going to have a regular blog featuring leaders in industry around the state and nation and since last week was “Thank a Farmer Week” the first industry I’ll highlight is agribusiness. The first blog in the installment is by Bill Streeter, President and CEO of MFA Incorporated. Read yesterday’s blog for additional background.
When Craig Thompson asked me to contribute to this blog, I was more than happy to agree. I’ve known and respected Craig’s parents for years. The entire Thompson family is well-respected.
Most of those involved in agriculture in the Golden Valley know MFA is a regional farm supply and grain marketing cooperative serving 45,000 active members in Missouri and adjacent states. But for those who might not know us, let me explain a little more in detail.
We serve our members through our company-owned MFA Agri Services Centers and through our locally-owned cooperatives, like the locations in Clinton and Windsor.
We’re a cooperative, which means we’re owned by our farmers and ranchers who elect MFA’s corporate board of directors. The cooperative structure, most famously introduced to America by Benjamin Franklin, allows for the thoroughly modern concept of member control.
Most people, on the outside of agriculture looking in, want to be assured agriculture has kept pace with modern life and modern technology. They want to know farmers are still taking care of their animals, taking care of the environment and continuing to be good stewards of the land.
Let me assure you today’s agriculture has not only met but exceeded your expectations. To illustrate that, let me explain briefly about a modern practice called precision agriculture. Precision agriculture gives farmers the ability to plant seed and place plant nutrients within one-half-inch of accuracy. It gives them the ability to map their fields according to soil type and projected yield. Precision agriculture even figures prominently in auto-steering equipment through a field.
This isn’t theoretical. MFA has the largest precision agriculture service of any business in our trade territory. We have our own network of radio-frequency towers operating in conjunction with satellite signals that allow our farmers to use incredibly precise geo-spatial data in all areas of production.
Today’s computer technology allows participating MFA farmers to place differing amounts of several plant nutrients at different rates and different places all within one field. Missouri soils are notoriously diverse. Farmers can have multiple types of soils all in one field. Each of those soils has differing nutrient needs. Our technology allows us to tailor inputs to fit the soil type and location.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Modern technology even allows tractors to follow very specific pathways through fields in all phases of plant growth from planting to harvest, all without the farmer touching the steering wheel. Very precise satellite coordinates guide those tractors.
Sounds like something futuristic, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Today’s farmers are taking advantage of these services in record numbers. So many farmers, in fact, that we have trouble keeping up with requests.
MFA Incorporated has a long, proud history in the Golden Valley with ties running back to the 1920s. In fact, in just a few short years, we’ll be celebrating our 100th anniversary. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, MFA has sales exceeding $1 billion. But we’re still intimately involved in the communities of our farmer/owners. In fact, through the MFA Foundation, your local cooperatives have been providing scholarships to rural kids for more than 50 years. The foundation has funded more than 10,000 young people in those years to the tune of $10 million in scholarships. That’s putting our money where our mouth is.
We care about our farmers and their communities. It gives us something in common with Golden Valley Memorial Hospital, now that I think about it. We try to make sure everyone at MFA understands the company’s vision and goals, through providing an environment that encourages people to excel, to want to come to work and accomplish things.
From my outside perspective, what better place to excel than an institution devoted to saving, helping and improving lives? Golden Valley Memorial Hospital looks to be a wonderful place to accomplish all of that.