USGC Remembers Council Leader Ray Defenbaugh

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) sadly shares the passing of Ray Defenbaugh, ethanol industry leader and agribusiness/ethanol and co-products sector director on the USGC Board of Directors.

“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, USGC Chairman and farmer from North Carolina. “He was a larger-than-life figure in his family, his community and the entire ethanol industry and will be dearly missed.”

Defenbaugh’s family has been involved in farming since 1710. After college, he pursued ethanol as a way to add value to the family operations. He was the founding member, president, CEO and chairman of Big River Resources, LLC, with ethanol plants, grain elevators and other facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

“Ray was one of a kind – a true leader of U.S. agriculture, ethanol and DDGS,” said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs. “He was dedicated to developing and promoting agriculture, involved in many associations and giving his all to each of them. He was a family man who was also a great business man, and he always had the most unique story to get across his point in a friendly way.”

Big River Resources, LLC, was the first ethanol plant to join the Council, and Defenbaugh played an important role in establishing the Council’s ethanol promotional work overseas. He continued to serve on the USGC Board of Directors, providing guidance – and humor – to the Council’s discussions and programming.

This year, Defenbaugh would have been recognized for 15 years of service with the Council. In December 2019, the USGC Board of Directors voted to award him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We are sending his wife, Alice, and the Defenbaugh family our most sincere sympathies during this difficult time,” Armstrong said.

Learn more about Ray’s history and contributions to agriculture.