State Organization Execs Agree on Council’s Value

State checkoff executives play a unique role within the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), from newer executives like Jill Barnhardt of the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Greg Krissek of the Kansas Corn Commission - both being recognized for five years of service - to veterans like Virginia Corn's Phil Hickman and Maryland Grain Producers' Lynne Hoot.

When asked about their USGC experiences, Hickman and Hoot offer similar perspectives on the Council's value.

"When it comes to our internal discussions, the question isn't 'do we want to give money to the U.S. Grains Council?' It's 'how much can we give?'" Hoot said. "These people are doing good work for us."

With 25 years of Council experience, Hoot points to professionalism as the Council's outstanding trait.

"It's a great organization, and I think it's only gone from strength to strength. It's a first-class operation."

Hickman, looking back over 20 years of work with the Council, said Virginia has been a steadfast supporter even in difficult years.

"It's been a priority to continue funding the Council because our representatives have dedicated the time to participate with the Council and then come back and demonstrate the Council's value to our board."

Both cite the value of trade missions in building understanding of export dynamics.

"I've found that everybody who goes on a trade mission and gets more closely involved with the Council comes back enamored with the program because they realize the network that the Council has and how it comes back to benefit the producer," Hoot said.

Hickman, who has traveled on Council state staff missions, also noted the quality of the Council's professional staff.

"I've always been very impressed by the fact that the Council has people who are deeply rooted into the communities where they work. They have great contacts both on the government side and in the private sector throughout those countries," he said.

For members trying to maximize the return on their Council membership, Hickman and Hoot also agreed on the importance of active involvement.

"Try to get someone on the Council's board of directors," Hoot said.

"Participate in the Council's leadership and encourage your delegates to advance themselves," Hickman concluded.