When asked what they remember most about U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Board of Directors member Ray Defenbaugh, friends and family are quick to smile and share about his gifts for connecting with people.
“He could talk to anybody, no matter who you were or where you were from,” reflects his daughter, Deborah Green. “He could be sitting talking in a field and, in an hour, he could have a hundred people around him for no reason. People were just drawn to him.”
Defenbaugh, who passed away in January 2020, was honored with USGC’s Lifetime Achievement Award this week during the organization’s 61st Annual Board of Delegates Meeting.
Led by a passion for agriculture that started at an early age, he wore many professional hats during his life, including high school agriculture teacher, loan officer and farm manager. But it was his leadership in the ethanol sector that brought his gifts to the Council.
“Ray was a calming voice and a uniting force within our industry,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO. “He meant so much to the Council. We need to continue to remember his legacy, his kindness and his thoughtful reminders that we need to work together for a common cause.”
Among other roles, Defenbaugh was the founding member, president, CEO and chairman of Big River Resources, LLC, which includes ethanol plants, grain elevators and other facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Defenbaugh served as the agribusiness/ethanol and co-products sector director on the USGC Board and played an important role in establishing the Council’s ethanol promotional work overseas.
“Ray led the Ethanol Advisory Team for the Council as our global effort was getting underway,” said Brian Healy, USGC director of global ethanol market development. “He helped usher in the deep support and collaboration that we see today.”
Defenbaugh’s legacy is felt in both the Council’s work and the Council community – a legacy members were able to reflect on as his family accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf.
“Ray was a vocal advocate for our work around the world and instrumental in bringing the Council’s ethanol program to where it is today,” said Darren Armstrong, farmer from North Carolina and former USGC chairman. “He was a larger-than-life figure in his family, his community and the entire ethanol industry and is dearly missed.”
Please join the Council in thanking the Defenbaugh family for his years of service and commitment to creating opportunities for U.S. farmers around the world.
About The U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability. Detailed information about the Council and its programs is online at www.grains.org.