5 Questions with Marion Kertz
November 15, 2018
Written By Adam Buckallew
How would you describe your farming operation?
My father got into farming in 1934 when he purchased a small parcel of land during the Great Depression. Our family has been farming the same area near Ste. Genevieve, Mo., ever since, and we now also farm across the river in Illinois. We have about 5,000 acres of cropland where we raise corn and soybeans. My sons and nephew have taken over the operation after I retired.
How important is the company’s non-member businesses, such as Break Time or Big O Tires, to the cooperative as a whole?
Anything that adds to the co-ops’ bottom line is great because that translates into more value for our farmer-members. Our traditional propane and fuel businesses have well-defined seasonality, so it’s helpful from a cash-flow perspective to have consistent revenue coming in from our Break Time convenience stores and our other business units to keep things going smoothly throughout the year. So while some of our members may not directly interact with those businesses, they are still an important part of the company’s growth and success.
What do you view as the most important issue facing MFA Oil?
We need to continue to make sure we are consistently meeting the needs of our member-owners, especially the next generation of leaders. I think bringing in more young blood and getting them involved in the cooperative is going to be crucial moving forward. We need to make sure the ensuing wave of younger farmers is well-prepared to keep the co-op going strong into the future.
What has been the response to the reinstatement of delivery invoices in your district?
I’ve had an opportunity to visit with many people at our local annual meetings throughout District 4, and the feedback they have shared with me has been positive. Restoring this convenience to our customers was a major priority for the company. We heard loud and clear how important pricing at the time of delivery was to our members and customers, and I am proud of the work our employees have done in a relatively short amount of time to address the issue.
What do you view as the most critical issues MFA Oil members are facing?
Nearly five years of falling commodity prices have put the farming community under a lot of stress. The situation has only grown more severe with widespread drought conditions across Missouri and recent trade disputes. The tariffs have hit many agricultural commodities hard. We need to get these trade negotiations figured out quickly, because the tariffs hurt not only farmers, but also our rural communities that depend on farm income across the Midwest.