Q&A with Tony Dameron of the MFA Oil Board of Directors
October 3, 2022
Written By Adam Buckallew
Tony Dameron of Vandalia, Mo., raises row crops and cattle with his wife. He is a third-generation MFA Oil member and has served as a delegate for the cooperative since 2015. Dameron was elected to the MFA Oil Board of Directors in September 2018.
How would you describe yourself and your farming operation?
My farming operation began in 1989 as an FFA project and a dream on my parents’ farm in Pike County, Mo. I always knew I wanted to be a farmer, but the 1980s left some deep scars across farm country, and it was a difficult time to enter agriculture as a beginner.
I was fortunate, however, that with guidance and support from my family, I could grow my project to a substantial size. Upon graduating high school, I started farming full-time.
My wife, Shera, and I have been married for 25 years. We have 2 daughters and a son-in-law who are involved with our farming operation.
We grow corn, soybeans, hay and have a cow/calf herd on about 5,000 acres of land in Audrain, Ralls, Pike, Montgomery and Lincoln counties in Missouri. Additionally, we operate a small feedlot operation where we finish our calves. Our finished cattle are marketed predominantly through U.S. Premium Beef in Tama, Iowa.
What motivated you to serve on the MFA Oil Board of Directors?
My grandad was an ardent supporter of the farm co-op system, and he taught me the benefits of co-op membership at an early age. I have been an MFA Oil member since I started farming. My local manager encouraged me to sign up for the delegate election so that I could have a voice in how our cooperative served its members. After becoming a delegate, I realized how important good governance is to running a successful cooperative. When my board member passed away in a tragic accident, I decided to run for the special election to finish his term. I felt like I could bring the perspective of an active farm operator to the boardroom.
What do you think sets MFA Oil apart from its competitors?
Our people are what sets us apart from our competition. We have great employees throughout the company who strive to deliver top-quality products and first-rate customer service every day. A cooperative whose sole reason for existence is serving its members is a marketplace phenomenon that is hard to beat.
What have you learned about the cooperative since becoming a director that you didn’t know before?
One of the biggest surprises to me after becoming a director is the colossal amount of work that is done behind the scenes on days, nights and weekends to make sure our customers receive the products and services they expect in a timely and efficient manner.
What’s something you think more members of the cooperative show know?
I serve on your Board of Directors with seven other farmers and ranchers. We weigh every decision that we make with this question: Does this decision lead to an outcome that serves our members? We have a professional management team that is closely aligned with our values and wholeheartedly strives to carry out our stated purposes and goals daily.
We have delegates who come together a few times each year to hear updates, elect directors, share feedback and help us see things we may have missed. What we need is more of you. We need members to attend their local annual plant meetings. We need you to vote in delegate elections, or better yet, ask your managers how to become a delegate. We need your feedback on what we are doing right and what we could do to better serve you. Together, we can build on the strong foundation of past success and keep our cooperative vital long into the future.