Keller elected USGC chairman, first woman to hold the office

By U.S. Grains Council | August 08, 2017

Deb Keller, a farmer from Clarion, Iowa, was elected as U.S. Grains Council chairman at the organization’s 57th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Vancouver, Washington.

In accepting the chairman’s gavel, she also made history as the first female selected for the role in the organization’s nearly 60 year history.

Keller’s experience as a strong advocate for trade will amplify the Council’s mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.

“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 said in 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.”

Keller introduced the theme of the upcoming year--“Friends and Frontiers”—reflecting both the opportunities and difficulties of the current trade environment. She shared how her personal experiences traveling with the council, hosting teams of international customers and serving on USGC advisory teams (A-teams) have broadened her understanding of what it takes to make trade happen and how trade benefits her own farm.

“We all know how important it is to maintain our relationships with our old friends,” she told the delegation. “And we are also looking to the future, to new opportunities. Those new frontiers exist throughout our industry and around the globe. There are so many places where we must continue to work to build new demand for today and tomorrow.”

Keller has previously served as the lead of the Council’s ROW (Rest of World) A-team, as well as the chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and a member of the National Corn Growers Association's Research and Business Development Action Team.

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, whom she met while working in a corn field. 

At the Vancouver meeting, the USGC Board of Delegates also elected new members of the Council’s Board of Directors. That body now includes:

- Deb Keller, chairman, Iowa Corn Promotion Board 

- Jim Stitzlein, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., vice chairman 

- Darren Armstrong, Corn Growers Association of North Carolina, Inc., secretary/treasurer 

- Philip “Chip” Councell, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, past chairman 

- Tom Sleight, president and CEO 

- Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources LLC, agribusiness/ethanol and co-products sector director 

- Craig Floss, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, checkoff sector director 

- Greg Hibner, J.D. Heiskell Hawkeye Gold Office, agribusiness sector director 

- Charles Ray Huddleston, Texas Grain Sorghum Association, sorghum sector director 

- Philip McCoun, Kentucky Corn Promotional Council, at-large director 

- Tom Mueller, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, corn sector director 

- Jim Raben, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, at-large director 

- Mark Seastrand, North Dakota Barley Council, barley sector director 

- Jim Stuever, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, at-large director 

- Chad Willis, Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, at-large director 

The new board of directors seated will serve until July 2018.

Find more information on the meeting here and on social media here.