Saturday, December 28, 2013

Children "Adopted" in Angel Tree Program

 By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Christmas for more than 200 families was a little merrier thanks to the generous donations to the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program.

It was the second year for the program at MKC, where employees adopted a child - buying them items for the holidays.

"The MKC Angel Tree Program was very successful again this year," said Matt Henderson, Longford location manager. "MKC employees helped to brighten the Christmas of around 200 children."

A group of employees load the gifts
collected in Moundridge.
In addition to employees personally donating items to the program, the Abilene location volunteered to run the Dickinson County Angel Tree program.

"Without their help this program would not have happened," Henderson said.  The Abilene location helped 150 children this year.

Henderson added the families that have received gifts through the MKC Angel Tree have expressed their thanks in many ways and their tears of joy at the sight of the presents they receive is priceless. "It makes me proud to be a part of a company that is so willing to give so much back to their communities," he said. 
Dominique Hill and Brent Floerke load
the gifts collected in Benton.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Farmers Cooperative Association seeks membership approval to merge with MKC

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

The board of directors of Farmers Cooperative Association of Manhattan has unanimously approved to take a proposal to their membership to merge with MKC.

Over the past two years, directors for Farmers Cooperative met with five cooperatives to determine which organization could provide the greatest benefits to the co-op and its members.

"We are looking forward to working with MKC," said Hal Mayer, Chairman of Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors. "We share the same core values and MKC's attention to detail in the area of customer service is outstanding. Members from these two cooperatives should greatly benefit from us working together."

Currently, MKC's furthest northeast location is in Abilene and serves customers in Dickinson, Ottawa, Clay and Geary counties. Noting the proximity between the two co-ops' locations and the similar profiles of their producers, CJ Blew, MKC's Board Chairman commented the merger, if approved, would be a natural fit. "This is also an opportunity for members from both organizations to insure the relevance and viability of their ownership in the cooperative system for generations to come."

With four locations in Alta Vista, Manhattan, Onaga and Westmoreland, Farmers Cooperative is a full-service cooperative with annual sales of $50 million. They offer grain, feed, agronomy and energy products and services to 2,000 members in five counties.

MKC and Farmers Cooperative are currently developing the required merger documents to be approved by both boards. A vote by Farmers Cooperative membership will be required to approve the merger and is expected to occur next spring.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MKC and Frontier Ag moving forward with merger discussions

The boards of directors for Frontier Ag and MKC have unanimously approved to move forward with the processes required to merge the two cooperatives. The cooperatives announced in September their plans to explore the potential of an alliance.

Board members from both cooperatives met earlier this week
to discuss the merits of a merger.
Frontier Ag President and CEO, Brad Cowan, commented the boards and management teams of both organizations spent the past sixty days completing the due diligence necessary to get to this point.

"We felt the time was right to pursue a merger," stated Cowan. "Combined we have the potential to position ourselves strategically for the future, creating tremendous opportunities for our members."

MKC President and CEO, Dave Christiansen, noted the cooperatives share a similar culture and vision, are comparable in product and service offerings, and are financially sound. "Both cooperatives focus on improving customer experience" stated Christiansen. "Together we have the potential to increase our relevance in the industry which will leverage our vendor relationships." The benefits this will deliver to our stockholders, employees, customers and communities are significant. "

Although the boards of both co-ops have endorsed the idea of a merger, each membership will be asked to approve it.

About Frontier Ag: With annual sales of $490 million, Frontier Ag, Inc. is a full-service cooperative, offering grain, feed, agronomy, energy, and transportation products and services to over 5,700 members in eleven (11) counties throughout northwest Kansas.

About MKC: With annual sales of $450 million, MKC is a full-service cooperative offering grain, feed, agronomy and energy products and services to over 6,400 members in eleven (11) counties throughout central Kansas.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MKC, CoBank and Land O' Lakes join forces to support ag education

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Supporting ag education has always been important to MKC. Whether we are joining forces with local schools to teach children how agriculture affects their life every day or providing financial assistance to schools to make sure students have access to programs and educational opportunities outside of their classroom, we want to support those who share our passion for ag education.

Dave Christiansen, MKC President & CEO noted that MKC and its employees take pride in supporting the development of our future leaders. "We feel the groups we choose to support says a lot about our company."

The Walton 21st Century Rural Life Center is just one of the area schools that MKC likes to support. The school first caught the attention of MKC in 2009. Just a few years earlier the school was close to being closed due to declining enrollment. They transitioned to a functioning charter school in the fall of 2007, a good fit for the surrounding community because of its strong agricultural roots. Now the school integrates agriculture into all areas of its curriculum.

The school’s popularity has grown along with outside support to keep it and now there is a waiting list to get in to the school. Moving forward with expanding the classrooms, the school has relied on outside contributions to help offset those costs. In an interview last year with the school’s principal, Natise Vogt, commented the growing pains and state budget cuts makes support from people like MKC even more vital.

Michael Walton, CoBank Representative (center),
and Jeff Naysmith, MKC Representative (at right),
present a donation to be used for the school's
building project.
In recent years the school has also captured the attention of Land O’ Lakes and CoBank, thanks to MKC. Both entities have matched MKC’s donations to the school helping to donate over $14,000 since 2009.

Robert Engel, CEO for CoBank, commented on MKC’s commitment to the school while improving the quality of life in their communities. "We’re delighted to join with MKC in support of the Walton Rural Life Center."


Monday, November 4, 2013

MKC employees help each other in time of need

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

To give employees an opportunity to support their colleagues in times of crisis, MKC allows employees to donate a portion of their vacation time. The donated vacation time is then turned into a monetary donation to the employee in need.

On September 30, a member of the Burns team suffered a heart attack a few hours after she got home from work and passed away unexpectedly.

"Clella Kellogg was working as a counter specialist at Burns and was an energetic, hardworking employee who could put a smile on everyone’s face like few others," said Matt Porter, Burns location manager. In addition to her husband who drives truck locally, Kellogg left behind three children at home, two of which are disabled and require unique schooling and medical attention.

Through email, Porter asked everyone to please consider donating vacation time in Kellogg’s name. Eighty employees responded and within 24 hours a significant donation was raised for the family.

"When I delivered the check to Clella’s husband and children, I explained how MKC employees pulled together to help out their family," Porter said. "They were very grateful and appreciative before they opened the check, and were speechless and emotional after opening the check. The entire family was overcome with a sense of relief and gratitude."

Porter said until that point the family was unsure how they would pay for the funeral services. "Mr. Kellogg told me the donation from MKC’s employees gave their family peace of mind since they did not have to worry about putting food on the table or returning to work before they were ready," he said.

"I was personally blown away by the generosity of our company and made me very appreciative to be working for a company that treats all employees like family," Porter said.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maintain fuel tanks for cold weather performance

Before extreme cold weather strikes, take steps to ensure problem-free engine performance and protect your valuable diesel equipment. With proper tank maintenance and fuel handling, you can avoid most common cold-weather problems.

Ice formation in fuels containing water creates severe fuel line and filter plugging problems. It’s important to regularly remove water from storage tanks, vehicle fuel tanks and filter bowls, and to follow these guidelines:
  • Tilt tanks to direct water and debris away from the outlet
  • Pressurize tanks to keep vapor and air inside
  • Drain and remove all contaminants every three months
  • Install proper filtration systems on bulk tanks
  • Replace fuel filters according to manufacturer recommendations; if filters have a drain valve, periodically drain water that may accumulate from condensation
  • Clean pump screens regularly
  • Request periodic fuel sampling for quality assurance purposes
  • Have tanks cleaned annually
Another major reason for winter problems is that tanks are not properly blended down. When blending down a tank, it's imperative that you know how much fuel is left in the tank and calculate the treat rate accordingly. If you have 700 gallons of #2 diesel remaining in the tank, and need to create a 50-50 blend of #1 and #2, ordering 700 gallons of a 50-50 blend (a common mistake) would create flow problems - because it would result in a blend of 1,050 gallons (71 percent) of #2 and 35 gallons (29 percent) of #1.

Proper use of cold flow improvers can extend the operability of fuels without the use of #1 fuel. They serve two functions: 1) changing the wax structure of diesel fuel so it can pass through filters more readily, and 2) keeping wax crystals dispersed longer when fuels are stored below the "cloud point" (temperature at which paraffin in fuel begins to form cloudy wax crystals and reduce flow).

When blending fuels, biofuels and additives, the components must all be at least 10 degrees above their cloud point – otherwise the additives will not blend in and therefore may clog filters.

Let us help you with all your winter fuel needs.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why we focus on growth

By Dave Christiansen, President and CEO

I first shared the following article in August, 2012 and felt the message to be timely and worth repeating.

I always find it interesting when I run into someone who asks the question, "Why focus on growth?". Somehow the vision the founders had for growth, from the day this company began, went from being an expectation to being assumed. Today, active growth is at times thought of with negative connotations.

At the time the co-op was organized, the passion for meeting the constantly changing needs of farmers’ expectations may not have been referred to as growth. However, I’m sure our founders had certain expectations of the co-op’s ability to meet the changing needs of the growers. At that time, they built elevators and purchased equipment that satisfied the needs of the day and new assets were surely designed with the future in mind.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Collaborate, communicate and cooperate. Celebrate National Co-op Month!

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications
Great things happen when people collaborate. Sharing ideas,resources and capital, helps individuals accomplish more together than they can on their own. Cooperatives are member-owned and -controlled businesses based on collaboration - people working together.

When people join together to form a cooperative, the business is founded on their values and needs: democratic principles; community commitment and interaction; cooperative buying power and economic advantage; people helping people. Communication—aimed at keeping members informed, educated and involved—is a key component of thriving cooperative businesses.

While investor-owned businesses have a structure that pushes them to deliver profits to shareholders, cooperatives have a structure that pushes them to meet their customers’ needs. Cooperatives put people ahead of profits. Cooperative earnings are returned to members through improved services, lower prices or refunds.

In the United States, there are 29,000 cooperatives with more than100 million members. Cooperatives operate in every industry including agriculture, energy, financial services, food retailing and distribution, health care, child care, insurance, housing, purchasing and shared services, telecommunications and others.

Cooperatives work to the benefit of their members and their communities, so join forces! Join a cooperative. 

Collaborate. Communicate. Cooperate. October is Co-op Month!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Celebrating National 4-H Week

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Turning ideas into action, 4-H youth are becoming everyday heroes who persevere through challenges to leave lasting, positive impacts on their communities. Through the work of caring mentors, 4-H - a positive youth development organization - is cultivating a growing number of America's youth to lead us in a Revolution of Responsibility. Their commitment challenges everyone to join the movement toward meaningful change.

This week we recognize and honor the history of 4-H as we celebrate National 4-H Week. Since its humble beginnings more than 100 years ago, 4-H has grown to become the nation’s largest youth development organization. Their idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities’ and develop ideas for a more innovative economy. That idea was the catalyst to begin the 4-H movement, and those values continue today.

As one of the first youth development organizations in America, 4-H opened the door for young people to learn leadership skills and explore ways to give back. 4-H revolutionized how youth connected to practical, hands-on learning experiences while outside of the classroom.
Each year MKC makes a financial commitment to 4-H Leadership Development Funds located within its trade territory.  Funds totaling more than $57,000 have been donated to these groups over the past eight years.  
Jeff Jones (far right) presents a donation to representatives
of the Reno Co. 4-H Leadership Development group.

“We believe the leadership programs available through 4-H are outstanding programs,” states Kerry Watson, Communications Specialist for MKC.  “It’s these types of programs that are helping to develop the skills of the future leaders of our communities. We’re proud to play a role in making sure these programs continue.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celebrating National Co-op Month

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Each October, cooperatives throughout the country and the world take time to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of cooperative businesses. Cooperatives are unique because they are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, member-owned enterprises.

Members of cooperatives pool their assets to meet the needs of their community in the form of food, financial services or purchasing power for family owned businesses. The cooperative spirit has been embraced by 100 million members, who are served by 29,000 cooperatives across our nation, working together to achieve community and economic advancement.

Locally owned and controlled, cooperatives play a vital role in the economic development and stability of the communities they serve, helping people improve their lives through an increase in jobs and access to goods and services that would otherwise be more expensive, lower in quality, or simply unavailable. 

This year’s Co-op Month theme,"Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate," emphasizes how great things happen when people join forces and collaborate and how cooperatives are businesses built on collaboration. That’s as true here at MKC as it is in cooperatives across the United States. A philosophy of people helping people lies at the core of all cooperatives, and it’s an advantage that has distinguished co-ops for more than 150 years. Socially responsible business is not a fad with cooperatives; it’s just how co-ops work.

This Co-op Month, we hope everyone will join us in celebrating the cooperative difference, our proud cooperative heritage and the wonderful opportunities cooperative membership will offer in central Kansas for many years to come. Let’s collaborate, communicate and cooperate!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Engaging youth in agriculture

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Now that school is back in session, kids are being immersed in reading, science and math. Outside the classroom at the Kansas State Fair, children had the opportunity to experience first-hand the importance of agriculture.

Last Friday I had the chance to volunteer with the Kansas Beef Council (KBC) at Agriland. Agriland, an interactive exhibit in the Pride of Kansas building, provides youth and adults the opportunity to learn the importance of agriculture and the impact it has on their everyday lives.

Guests visiting Agriland traveled through learning areas for beef, dairy, soils, grains, stewardship and nutrition/dietary guidelines. In those areas we taught visitors about how crops and livestock provide us not only with food, but also with numerous products we use in our everyday lives—from basketballs to bubble gum. In the livestock area, fair goers took photos with the cutouts and weighed themselves on a scale, comparing themselves with the weights of a calf or a bushel of grain. In the grains area children immersed their hands in buckets of grain including corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, sunflowers and others. A favorite for the kids was the experience of "driving" a combine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Cooperative Advantage

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

There are reward cards and punch cards. You may have coupons or store cash but very few
MKC Field Marketer, Jared Jones, personally
delivers patronage checks to MKC members,
Jim Schmidt and Ben Schrag.
businesses offer an incentive quite like your cooperative. MKC returns profits to its customers, the members who use its services. That is the cooperative way of doing business.

“Doing business with MKC definitely has its rewards,” said Jim Schmidt, McPherson County producer. “Not only do we get quality and personal expertise, but facilities continue to be improved or new ones are being built, and at the end of the year we see a patronage check for our business.”

MKC Chief Financial Officer, Danny Posch, said we are often asked what does a cooperative do with its net earnings. “One of the primary uses is allocating a portion back to our members based on the business they did with the cooperative during the business year,” he said.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where Answers Grow

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

As crop values and input costs reach new heights, so does the value of solid, trusted agronomic advice. That’s exactly what MKC and WinField Solutions can provide.

MKC kicked off the 2013 Answer Plot season on July 16 near Inman with more than 125 guests in attendance. The hands-on experience of an Answer Plot® plus the expertise of MKC field staff equals valuable insights for the producer. 

“The Answer Plot® program has been one of the most beneficial learning tools for growers,” says Kent Nichols, MKC Agronomy Field Sales Manager.  “These in-field classrooms are much more than the traditional test plot that only compares one hybrid or variety to another.  Answer Plots are about a total agronomic system.”

WinField employees were an instrumental piece of making this year’s Answer Plot® a success.  In addition to coordinating the studies that are replicated in MKC’s local plot, WinField provided information to area producers in attendance. WinField employees kicked off the learning sessions by hosting a sprayer clinic for those present. 
MKC Field Marketer, Jeremy Peterson, explains how to get
the best coverage from sprayers by making the correct tip selection
and using the correct adjuvant package.

The sprayer clinic focused on many different aspects of both operating a sprayer as well as what types of adjuvants are available for both custom applied acres and those who spray their own fields. With new herbicide technologies coming soon, presenters illustrated different spray tips which are available. Many new herbicide technologies are requiring that producers and custom applicators use certain types of spray tips. Utilizing the correct spray tips in combination with recommended adjuvant products available from MKC, growers will be able to minimize chemical drift.

The field sales team of MKC also conducted a series of educational presentations.  Growers were split into three different groups and rotated through the different sessions. The first stop on the rotation focused on recent events which have occurred throughout the MKC trade territory, including Green Snap. MKC staff demonstrated the importance of large root systems in corn as well as other positive characteristics.  Examples of plant diseases were also presented, providing growers a better understanding of what to look for in their own fields.

The second rotation explained the NutriSolutions tools that are available to producers through WinField Solutions, LLC. NutriSolutions is a systems approach to nutrient management.  The main component of the NutriSolutions program utilizes tissue sampling, a process that utilizes plant tissue from different stages of a plant’s life cycle. This allows growers to make changes to a fertility program part way through a season, if the tissue sample shows that a plant is in need of additional nutrients. Moving forward, there will be additional tools available such as digital imaging as well as technology which allows growers to know exactly how much nutrients are available from the soil within a field.

The final stop at this session illustrated the differences between WinField’s Gold and Silver management practices. These different practices utilize multiple technologies such as seed treatments, in-furrow seed treatments, in-furrow growth promoters, as well as different levels of fertility.  Nichols stressed the importance of growers understanding the yield potential of their fields and managing it accordingly. 

“MKC field marketers are well versed and professionally trained in developing management practices which incorporate many different technologies,” Nichols said. “But there’s nothing like attending an Answer Plot® Knowledge Event, which is based on the idea that seeing is believing.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

Understanding the Domestic Production Activities Deduction

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Through a requested IRS Private Letter Ruling (PLR), MKC has found a path to pass a significant tax deduction on to the producers who are members through the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD).

“I was very excited when MKC contacted me regarding the cooperative’s willingness to set up the Domestic Production Activities Deduction to give this great benefit to their members,” said Jim Graber, a local accountant. “Right away I saw a potential of several million dollars of tax deduction to farmers.”

DPAD, often referred to as Section 199 Deduction, is a special federal income tax provision allowing a cooperative to allocate to its members a tax deduction generated by “qualified production activities.”  As outlined by the Internal Revenue Service, and as it relates to the DPAD, grain payments the cooperative makes to its members are considered qualified production activities by the cooperative, thus making the cooperative and its members eligible for the tax deduction.

“As of the first of the year, MKC has initiated a plan to fully capture the value of the Domestic Production Activities Deduction for our members,” said CJ Blew, MKC board chairperson. “This project further enhances the value of the cooperative to its members.”

The favorable ruling will allow the partnered cooperatives within Team Marketing Alliance, Inc. to utilize a $5M deduction previously not available to the cooperatives or their members. The ruling, which will require specific process and documentation changes by TMA and the partnered cooperatives, will have a significant financial impact on their local communities and members.

“Economic value of this kind of cash savings being injected into the local economy is a real boost for the area,” Graber said.

DPAD is a tax deduction established to benefit the U.S. manufacturers and oil companies for domestic production. “Farmers are domestic producers as well. They are eligible for the tax deduction even though it is missed on many tax returns,” Graber said.

With the danger of oversimplifying what the deduction is and how it works, Graber explains it to his clients as an extra deduction that equals 9% of profit from domestic production.

Similar to patronage, this deduction will be shared by members based on the amount of grain business each member does with the cooperative. “Another benefit that separates your cooperative from other competition,” Blew said.

Once the Domestic Production Activities Deduction is calculated by each individual cooperative, the cooperative is allowed to pass through the deduction to its members. Once reported to the members on a 1099 Tax Form, the member will be allowed to utilize the deduction on their personal or corporate income tax return.

Graber has personally seen the deduction save up to $10,000 on an individual tax return. He said most farmers he sees could see a savings of $1,000 to $6,000.

According to Graber, there are no disadvantages of DPAD to the members of MKC. “It doesn’t decrease dividends, it doesn’t cost any extra in products,” he said. “It is simply a win-win situation.”

“I have found over the past 40 years as a public accountant, some of the worst tax advice comes from the coffee shops, church parking lots and family,” Graber said. “Before you dismiss this golden opportunity for a tax deduction on the coffee shop chatter, seek the advice of a competent professional. It is a great deal.”

Writer’s note: The views in this article are not intended to replace the advice of your tax professional. MKC encourages members to address questions to their tax professional or accountant.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Japanese Trade Team Tours MKC

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

Industry representatives from Japan visited MKC at Groveland on July 26 through a trip hosted by the Sorghum Checkoff and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). The week-long trip was an effort to emphasize the quality of sorghum produced in the U.S. and the value it can provide in Japan.

“We enjoyed the unique opportunity to host the Japan delegation to MKC,” said Nathan Eck, Groveland Location Manager for MKC. “Our visitors were very interested to see how the commodities they purchase from the U.S. work their way through the supply chain from farm gate to our cooperative to port and then on to their facilities in Japan.”

Matt Long, Grain Operations Manager at Groveland for MKC, covered Groveland’s intake of wheat, corn, sorghum and other commodities. Japan representatives also learned about the need for speed and space MKC customers are looking for and how the Groveland location fits those needs. The group also toured the warehouse and elevator facilities.

The Japanese group, consisting of five individuals involved in livestock feed production, arrived to the U.S and traveled to several different locations in Texas before making their way to Kansas. The group began in the Ft. Worth area where they met with sorghum farmers and learned how it was produced. Representatives also met with grain traders in the Texas Panhandle to learn about marketing sorghum and how sorghum is traded in the U.S. Their trip also included a feed lot tour learning about utilizing sorghum silage and flaked grain in beef production.

Their first stop in Kansas was in Wichita where they visited with animal nutritionists to learn more about the feeding value of sorghum. They also toured the Kansas Ethanol Plant in Lyons, KS, and learned about the feeding value of sorghum distillers grains. The group also had the opportunity to visit Baldwin Farms near McPherson.

Tetsuo “Tommy” Hammoto, Japan Director for the U.S. Grains Council, said this was the third
trip to Kansas for groups of Japan representatives.  “Hosting international trade teams continues to be an important effort by the USGC and the Sorghum Checkoff,” Tommy said. “The trips focus on internal marketing, allowing other countries to see the U.S. sorghum industry first-hand while making purchasing decisions.”

Japan is the third largest importer of U.S. sorghum and primarily utilizes the grain in its livestock industry. The United Sorghum Checkoff Program works to improve the profitability of the sorghum industry through research, promotion and information.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Building Momentum

By Dave Christiansen, President and CEO

It was a pleasure having more than 750 guests in attendance at our annual stockholders’ meeting last month.  Each year a theme is selected for the meeting and this time we felt “building momentum” best represented our past year.

Not only this past year, but over the course of the past several years, the board of directors and staff has focused on how to build momentum. Admittedly, there were days when we took two steps forward only to take three steps back. The challenge we faced - and will continue to - is the world and progressive producers continue to build their own momentum and at an ever-increasing rate.

Significantly contributing to building momentum at MKC is our vision and strategic objectives.  Once these elements became a part of everything we do at MKC, your cooperative began to achieve more.  We became more focused and began communicating the same message to all of our stakeholders, customers, vendors and employees.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Employee commitment - consistency in an ever-changing industry

By Melissa Woeppel, Communications Intern

As farming and technology continue to change, cooperatives must change as well in order to remain viable in the agriculture industry of today. Amid the change, however, loyalty and commitment from employees is an incomparable advantage for the co-op. MKC is fortunate to have employees who continue to help the co-op supply quality inputs and services and market our customers' products, resulting in the profitability of all.

Dianne Gilfillan, Grain Coordinator at Talmage, is just one example of such an employee. Growing up on a farm, Dianne has found memories of the local co-op where her dad would do his business with grain, feed and coal, and later on fuel and crop nutrient and protection products. For the past 32 years, Gilfillan has been working in the cooperative system. She started in May 1976 and left when her husband’s work moved the family to Oklahoma City, OK in 1978. After moving back to Abilene in 1981, she received a call asking her to come back to work. "I jumped at the chance!" admitted Gilfillan. She began work as a counter person on June 1, 1981. After the grain bookkeeper retired in 1985, she moved into grain accounting.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Building the future

By Melissa Woeppel, Communications Intern

Every day the agriculture industry continues to change and adapt new technologies and improvements. Because of this it is vital for young adults to be actively involved in agricultural processes. MKC is doing its part to help prepare the next generation of agriculturalists through the internship program.

This summer MKC hired ten college students to complete internships at various locations and within a number of departments. According to Brett Myers, Director of HR and Development for MKC, most interns were recruited from their university of college career fair. "Others were either referred to the company or had previously been summer employees," he said.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Going beyond the call of the job

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist

His business casual was put away and replaced with more suitable attire including steel toe
MKC Human Resource Manager,
Jeff Frizell, (at left) gains insights
to different positions during a
week-long experience in Haven.
boots, gloves and a hat. His face saw more sun and his hands were dirtier than usual as he set out to learn the job. But this MKC employee wasn’t starting a new job, instead Jeff Frizell was learning the jobs for which he hires.

"In conversation with senior management, the point was made it would be of value to me and MKC to experience the jobs I spent my time hiring candidates for," Frizell said. "By doing this, I would gain a better understanding of what is needed for the position."

Going beyond the call of his job, Frizell, MKC Human Resource Manager, endured a week-long experience at the MKC Haven location in late June.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Garver retires after 31 years

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

It’s been fun. That’s how Murl Garver recently summed up his 31 years of service in the cooperative system. Co-workers and area farmers joined Murl for a celebratory retirement luncheon in his honor on Friday, July 26, in Abilene.

Originally from the Talmage area, Murl grew up helping his parents with their farming operation. Following high school, Murl attended Bethany College where he earned a degree in general business. He wanted to pursue a career in agriculture and hoped to do so in Dickinson County, close to home. When an opportunity to work in the elevator at Farmers Coop presented itself, Murl accepted. The position he accepted, however, wasn’t one in which he would apply his college education. He would get the chance a couple of years later when he assumed the responsibilities of office manager/controller, a position in which he held for 22 years.
When Farmers Coop merged with MKC in 2008, Murl’s skill set was utilized in different positions and at different locations, including the fuel department at
McPherson covering for a fellow employee on medical leave. "All of the positions had their own unique challenges and rewards," Murl said. "I especially liked the office work and working with numbers."

Murl doesn’t plan to venture away from agriculture during his retirement as he plans to do a little farming himself and work for an area farmer. MKC wishes him all the best!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stockholders re-elect incumbents to board of directors

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Nearly 750 members, guests and employees were in attendance at the 48th annual stockholders' meeting in Hutchinson on July 11. Re-elected by the membership to serve a three-year term on the board of directors were Cecil Wiebe, District 1; Jason Gaeddert, District 3; and Randy Ellwood, At Large. Wiebe will be serving his fourth term on the board and Gaeddert and Ellwood will be serving their third terms.

In addition to the elections, members of the board and management team reported on the cooperative's financial and operational performance for the past year. Board Chairman, CJ Blew, spoke of the strategic initiatives the directors and MKC has in place to insure the cooperative's relevance in the ag industry. Blew also spoke of the importance of being different or the first to perform or perfect things.

"It's not that MKC has re-invented the wheel," Blew said. "But I think we have re-invented what a co-op means in terms of value to a producer."

President and CEO, Dave Christiansen, spoke of the cooperative's vision. Christiansen also spoke of the momentum today's progressive producer is building and the strategic initiatives MKC has in place to keep pace with them.

Danny Posch, CFO, reviewed the co-op's financial performance, stating MKC ended the fiscal year with $14 million in overall net earnings. "Another profitable year for your organization," Posch stated.

Guest speaker, Paul Mobley, concluded the evening with a presentation of photographs of the American farmer and stories behind each photo.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Customer workshops prove successful; additional sessions scheduled

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Providing customers the ability to do business online and on their time has been the premise behind a series of educational workshops that kicked off this past March. Craig Roebke, trainer for MKC, has been conducting the workshops, and is impressed with the outcome.

"We knew some of our customers were using only the basics of our online systems, and we knew we had some customers who had yet to try the systems," stated Roebke. "The training sessions are working. We’ve gained new users and existing members have become more efficient with the tools available to them."

According to Roebke, the workshops cover a number of tools and features available on the sites. Participants learn how to determine the amount of grain available for sale, view open contracts and how to utilize the offer contract system. In addition, they learn how to access detailed information including purchase history on products, invoices, and how to schedule payments online.

Roebke noted some customers avoided paying their bills online because they thought it would automatically become a monthly occurrence. "This feature actually gives customers the flexibility to schedule the payment when they want it to occur," said Roebke. "They can use the online bill payment system one month and not use it again for a couple of months if they choose. The customer controls their payment."

A number of workshops are scheduled to take place at MKC locations over the next several months. Information about the workshops and schedule is available through any MKC location.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sales staff recognized for certification

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications
Kevin Snyder


The Kansas Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) board recently recognized 61 members for their 20, 15, 10 and 5-year anniversaries as a board certified CCA (Certified Crop Advisor). Among those recognized were MKC Field Marketers, Kevin Snyder and Brent Floerke. Snyder was recognized for five years and Floerke for ten years as a CCA.

The CCA program was established in 1992 to provide a benchmark for practicing agronomy professionals in the United States and Canada. The Kansas CCA is a professional certificate for agronomists throughout the state.

Brent Floerke

To become a CCA, individuals must pass both a state and international test and maintain certification through continuing education.

"Kansas CCA commends Kevin and Brent for their continued commitment to professionalism," said Steve Peterson, Kansas CCA Board Chairman. "Agriculture is changing too rapidly to not have the best experts (such as these two) in their field."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Construction to begin on grain facilities

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Construction of two high-speed grain facilities is scheduled to start in early July following the completion of wheat harvest. Located in Rice and McPherson counties, both facilities will house a combined total of nearly 6 million bushels of grain.

MKC and CHS, Inc., an energy, grains and foods company, formed a limited liability company (LLC) to build and operate a high-speed shuttle loading facility to be located two miles west of Canton, Kan on Highway 56 in McPherson County.  Located on the Union Pacific rail line, it is estimated the grain shuttle will load out 15 to 20 million bushels of grain on an annual basis to export facilities in the Pacific Northwest, Gulf Coast and Mexico.

Proximity to Kansas Ethanol and membership growth in the area served as primary reasons for the site selected north of Lyons, Kan in Rice County. Dave Christiansen, MKC President and CEO, commented the co-op consulted with grain industry experts in selecting the site. "Grain production in the area, access to good roads and the location and condition of existing grain facilities were all factors in selecting a site for the Rice County project," Christiansen stated.

Both projects are expected to be completed before the 2014 fall harvest.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Annual meeting to feature award-winning photographer, Paul Mobley

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

The 48th annual meeting of MKC stockholders is scheduled for Thursday, July 11, and will be held at the Sunflower Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. Events will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a dinner followed by the business meeting to include election of board members. This year’s meeting will feature keynote speaker, Paul Mobley.

Mobley is an award-winning photographer who has traveled the world over to capture and celebrate humanity. Firmly grounded by his Midwestern roots, Mobley’s early training as a photographer began at Detroit’s Center for Creative Studies, and continued in the New York studios of such leading photographers as Annie Leibovitz, Steve Steigman, and David Langley, where he apprenticed for many years before embarking on his own career. Since then, Mobley has successfully worked with a broad range of corporate, advertising, and editorial clients including American Express, Sony, Max Factor, Microsoft and many others.

In 2005 Paul set out to capture the soul of rural America. Traveling across the country Mobley and his camera were welcomed time and again into the homes of over three hundred farm families, who graciously shared their personal histories and private thoughts, along with the fruits of their labor. Visit after visit, Mobley came to know the independent farmer's spirit from both behind the lens and across the dinner table. The result, American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country, won the 2009 Western Heritage award for "best photography book" from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

In Paul’s presentations, he shares photographs and tells the stories behind the pictures of America’s unsung heroes. From Walter Jackson, a 104-year-old Florida citrus farmer; to Patsy Fribley, a stockyard dealer from Montana; to Aaron Bell, a young 9th generation organic dairy farmer in Maine, Mobley's exquisite photographs and narrative reveal the true face of American farming and remind us what it means to live with simplicity, contentment, and decency in a world that so often forgets.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wiebe seeks re-election to MKC board of directors

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications
Three positions on MKC's board of directors will be decided by a vote of the membership during MKC's annual meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m., at the Sunflower Building located on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.   Cecil Wiebe is seeking re-election to District 1.

Cecil Wiebe and his son, Curtis, operate a diversified grain operation east of Newton. They also operate a grower and finishing cattle operation to make use of the crops they raise. Cecil and his wife, Jacque, have four married children who are all involved in farming. His primary MKC location is Burns and he feels he has benefited from the upgrades MKC has completed at this location.  

Cecil previously served on the board of directors for Farmers Grain Cooperative and was president when it merged with MKC in 2002. He has previously served as secretary for MKC’s Board of Directors and on various committees. In addition, he has previously served on the board of directors for Team Marketing Alliance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Randy Ellwood seeks re-election to MKC board of directors

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Three positions on MKC's board of directors will be decided by a vote of the membership during MKC's annual meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m., at the Sunflower Building located on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.   Randy Ellwood was first elected to MKC’s Board of Directors in 2007 and is seeking his third term as an at-large director.

Randy has operated a diversified grain operation in the Windom, Marquette and Nickerson area since 1980. Along with his wife, Nancy, their operation is run by their children and his uncle, Bill Teeter. Their operations consist of wheat milo, soybeans, hay and silage, along with Randy’s cow/calf operation. His primary MKC location is Groveland. Randy has previously served on several committees including Haven Commodities, MKC’s Scholarship Committee, and the safety committee for the Windom Fire Department.

Randy sees key issues facing cooperatives today as increased costs of operations, construction and repairs. Another issue is staying current with government regulations. He believes the greatest strength of a cooperative system is its access to quality supplies and services at a reasonable cost. By banding together to purchase supplies and services, cooperatives offset the advantage of larger companies.

When asked about the role of a director, Randy commented that it is to define and set the cooperative’s overall objectives and policies and set long-range goals with management. In addition, a director’s role is to listen to patrons’ concerns and relay them to management.

Randy believes his past participation in various workshops and trainings has helped him gain the knowledge needed to be an effective member of the board. A number of ideas he has presented to the board have been implemented.

Randy feels his experience of 34 years in agricultural business will help him to continue to serve and make decisions that are best for MKC.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Area youth learn about ag safety

Sixty youth, ages ranging from 9-12 years participated in the Annual Farm Safety Day Camp hosted by the McPherson County Extension office with help from MKC, Farm Bureau and many volunteers.

According to Jonie James, McPherson County Extension Agent, youth started
their day watching the McPherson EMS, firefighters and police demonstrate how they respond to vehicle rollover accidents. Participants were even privileged to see the medic helicopter land nearby. Following the demonstration the youth were able to ask each department questions and were able to see the rescue equipment up close. 

"It was a good opportunity for the youth to know who in their community are available when accidents occur," stated Jones.

The youth were then divided into smaller groups and rotated to different
sessions focused on farm safety. The sessions included PTO safety, grain bin safety, first aid, fire safety, pinch points, livestock safety and pesticide safety. Participants were also provided a farm safety kit.

"Farm safety cannot be stressed enough to our youth as we strive to keep them safe," stated Jones. "This camp’s objective is to help youth understand how dangerous farming and ranching can be and to emphasize the importance of being aware of these dangers so that they will think about what they are doing, and then plan ahead to stay safe while working."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gaeddert seeks re-election to MKC board of directors

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

Three positions on MKC's board of directors will be decided by a vote of the membership during MKC's annual meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m., at the Sunflower Building located on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.  Jason Gaeddert, is seeking re-election to District 3.
Jason, along with his family, operates a diversified, dryland and irrigated grain operation in the Buhler area. Their operation consists of corn, soybeans, wheat, milo and sweet corn. His primary MKC location is Buhler.

Jason was first elected to the MKC board of directors in 2007.He is seeking re-election to District 3 because he feels a sense of responsibility to MKC to not only do business with the cooperative, but also contribute to the leadership and direction of the company. Jason wants to do his part to insure MKC’s future remains strong so that it will continue to help in the success of everyone’s farming operations.

He believes MKC’s strengths include the many employees that are dedicated to helping members farming operations be successful. The ability to market grain and purchase inputs in today’s global market and joining others in a cooperative provides a competitiveness that can’t be achieved as individuals. Jason believes MKC’s tag line, "Shared Growth. Shared Success." truly defines what a cooperative is.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Local producer appointed to national committee

The National Sorghum Producers (NSP) recently announced 17 appointments to its Legislative Committee. McPherson County producer, Larry Dahlsten, is one of those appointees.

National Sorghum Producers is leading legislative and regulatory change through effective policy and relationships for a more profitable, diverse and competitive sorghum industry. The NSP Legislative Committee exists to provide input to the NSP board of directors and staff on how proposed legislation and regulations will impact member operations and to provide input on new legislation that will help increase sorghum producer profitability.

Other appointments to the committee include J.B. Stewart of Oklahoma (committee chairman), David Watkins of Arkansas, Earl Roemer of Kansas, Luke Sayes of Louisiana, Don Bloss of Nebraska, Lance Herndon of North Carolina, Adam Schindler of South Dakota, Jim Massey of Texas, Burl Scherler of Colorado, John Williams of Illinois, Greg Stone of Kansas, Stephen Bigge of Kansas, Stan Fury of New Mexico, Dani Bellmer of Oklahoma, Kathy Brorman of Texas, and Jason Frantz of Texas.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Employees help with cleanup following storm

By Melissa Woeppel, Communications Intern

Loss of power, blown out windows, debris and fallen branches were just some of the destruction left by a tornado that touched down near Bennington, Kansas on the early evening of May 28. While no damage was reported at MKC’s location in this small community, several of our customers were not as lucky.

According to Ron Wenger, location manager at Bennington, the tornado that touched down "stayed in an area about three miles long and three miles wide for over an hour resulting in a lot of damage [that] I can’t justly describe."

In response to the destruction, employees of the Bennington location volunteered time and resources to assist in the cleanup efforts. MKC also provided a tele-handler and skid steer to use in the cleanup process.

On Wednesday, MKC provided pizza for approximately 25 volunteers who helped to bring trash to a central location. Thursday also included much of the same work. Clean-up efforts continued on Friday as MKC employees and community members, 70 in total, used a large backhoe, a large cat, skid steers, service trucks, farm trucks and trailers to assist with the efforts.

"We were thanked more than once for what we considered our duty as part of the community," said Wenger.

Despite the amount of property damage caused by the tornado, no one was injured.