5 Questions with Benny Farrell
July 19, 2018
Written By Adam Buckallew
How would you describe yourself and your farming operation?
I was born and raised in northwest Missouri and have been farming here my entire life. I represent the fifth generation of my family to do so. My wife, Nancy, and I raise corn, soybeans and cattle with our two sons and their families here in Maryville.
In addition to sitting on the MFA Oil Board of Directors, I have also served on the MFA Incorporated Board, National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Farm Bureau Advisory Board, National Beef Board and the Missouri Beef Industry Board.
You have served on the MFA Oil Board of Directors for 27 years and seen many changes with the cooperative during that span of time. Which company-related events that occurred during that time frame are the most memorable to you?
The most memorable thing to happen during my time on the board was the sale of our ownership stake in the NCRA petroleum refinery in McPherson, Kan. MFA Oil was contractually obligated to sell our position in the refinery to the majority owner, and at the time, the refinery’s earnings accounted for more than two-thirds of our income. Navigating that process in a way that returned as much value as possible to our farmer-owners was crucial. The eventual sale brought in millions of dollars of capital that the company has strategically reinvested in acquisitions and operational improvements.
What motivated you to serve on the Board of Directors for so many years?
The people involved with MFA Oil are the reason I have served for so many years. I have had a chance to develop great relationships with the farmers and ranchers involved in the cooperative. As chairman of the board, I have had the opportunity to develop great connections with not only the people in my own district, but across the cooperative. Our employees have also been a huge part of the reason I have stayed for as long as I have. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great managers and staff at the company, and I am especially appreciative of all the men and women who serve our patrons in rural America.
What has been your approach as chairman when it comes to helping govern the cooperative?
Putting our members and customers first has been my priority throughout my time on the board. The cooperative is almost 90 years old, and one of the primary reasons we are still here today is because we have always focused on delivering outstanding service to the people who do business with us. We have to be prepared to service these people and keep them as valued customers while continuing to deliver top-of-the-line products.
What do you view as the most important issues MFA Oil and its members are facing?
At the moment, high input prices and low commodity prices are hurting the agricultural community. It’s a basic thing, but a real challenge. I’ve been farming my whole life and that is just part of it. As an energy supply cooperative, we do everything we can to provide competitive pricing and the best service possible to our farmer-owners.