Q&A with Jake Taylor, Vice Chairman of the MFA Oil Board of Directors
October 13, 2021
Written By Adam Buckallew
How would you describe yourself and your farming operation?
I didn’t grow up on a farm. Through a series of life events and experiences, in 2014, I decided to make the leap, follow my dreams and start a farming operation at the age of 36. As a first-generation farmer, I knew I would have to go the non-traditional route to make the economics work. I chose to build an organic row crop operation. In the 7 years since, we’ve grown and expanded using technology and specialized equipment. Our future looks bright.
What motivated you to serve on the Board of Directors?
Shortly after I began farming, I was invited to attend a young farmer and rancher networking event sponsored by MFA Oil. It was during that conference that we talked about the importance of getting involved in the governance of your cooperative. I had never considered participating in such a capacity until this event. After careful consideration, I decided I would run for the Board of Directors during the next election cycle. I enjoy working with the Board to represent our fellow farmers’ interests.
What is your approach as vice chairman when it comes to helping govern the cooperative?
A cooperative is like a democracy in many ways. We have a board of eight elected directors who all put the company before ourselves. Each director brings their own unique set of experience, skills and viewpoint to the Board. In recent years, the Board and management have worked hard to realign the company and create a greater focus on serving members’ and customers’ needs.
I view organizational health as a key to being able to move quickly and adapt to the changing business climate. When the co-op is healthy, it can perform at its highest level. The management team has worked diligently with our Board to ensure the company is providing excellent service while delivering value to our member-owners. Our members deserve and expect us to provide strong leadership, and that’s what we are committed to giving them.
What do you view as the most important issue MFA Oil is facing?
There’s growing pressure from the public sector to move away from petroleum-based products, but I don’t believe that’s going to happen on the farm in the short-term. As a Board, we work with our leadership team to look at business trends, where the world is headed and how we can strategize to best position the cooperative for the future. We’re committed to being at the forefront of changes that are happening in the energy business, but not too far out. We want to be on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge.
From a membership perspective, inflation and supply chain issues are important concerns. We’re seeing a variety of supply chain disruptions that are affecting product availability and pricing across the marketplace. Inflation can be both good and bad for farmers. It can boost the prices we see for our commodities, but it can also raise our operating costs and put financial pressure on some producers.