Deb Keller, a farmer from Clarion, Iowa, was elected as U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chair on Wednesday at the organization’s 57th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Vancouver, Washington. Keller, who represents Iowa Corn farmers with her USGC board seat, is a second-generation farmer and the past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. She will be the first woman to serve as Chair in USGC’s 60-year history.
“Thinking ahead, I see so many areas for growth, but I also see challenges that will take much time and patience to see through,” Keller shared during her incoming chairman’s remarks. “After working with our delegates, the board and our staff both internationally and domestically, I know we can be successful together in growing demand for grains in all forms to the growing global middle class.”
Keller introduced the theme of the upcoming year - “Friends and Frontiers” - reflecting both the opportunities and challenges of the current trade environment. “We all know how important that it is to maintain our relationships with our old trading partners and friends,” she told the delegation. “And we are also looking to the future, to new opportunities. Those new frontiers exist throughout our ag industry and around the globe. There are so many places where we must continue to work to build new demand for grain in all forms for today and tomorrow.”
Keller says she has been working toward becoming a Chair of the Council for the last 10 years. “As a corn farmer, I always knew how important markets were, but I wasn’t aware of all the intricacies involved in enabling trade,” said Keller. “I’ve come to appreciate how much the Council does for me as a farmer, not only developing markets, but also enabling trade for us as farmers,” she said.
Keller credits her work as the leader of a USGC Advisory Team in helping her understand how overseas demand connects back to the farm. “Leading an A-team provided me an understanding of specific markets, to really drill down in a certain part of the world, to take information in little bites,” she said. “Now when I focus on the big picture, I can put all those little pieces together.”
She is the past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and has served on Iowa Corn’s Research & Business Development Committee and the Exports & Grain Trade Committee.
“Deb has given a lot of time and leadership as an advocate for agriculture at the local, state, and national level,” said Iowa Corn Chief Executive Officer Craig Floss who serves on USGC Board as State Checkoff Sector Director. “I have no doubt that she will do an outstanding job representing Iowa’s corn farmers as USGC Chair.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University and has farmed in Wright County, Iowa, for more than 25 years with her husband, Gary. They have three children.
Also representing Iowa farmers, Dick Gallagher has served for the past four years at the USGC Board of Directors is Corn Sector Director. Gallagher’s term expires at this meeting and we thank him for his service and representation of the corn sector. He farms in Washington, Iowa, and has served at ICPB Chair and currently serves on the Iowa Corn Exports and the Grain Trade Committee.
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is a 7,500-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.