Friday, January 29, 2016

Delegates - the Driving Force Behind a Co-op's Success

When I was a kid, I remember my Dad going off to lots of meetings. He was on the school board, town board, church council, FFA Alumni, etc. He was also a delegate for several local co-ops (At different times of course. Mom wouldn't allow him to miss that many milkings!). As I have grown, I have tried to be involved in my local community as well. It wasn't until we recently started doing business with Genex and AgSource that I even thought much about how a cooperative is run or who makes up the delegate body and boards of directors.

Our recent CRI Annual Meeting gave me the perfect opportunity to delve into our leadership and find out more about our delegates, their responsibilities and why they serve their cooperative.

Tell us a little about yourself and your farming/ranching operation.
My name is Scott Erthum, and I am a rancher in the Sandhills region
in north central Nebraska. We run over 400 head of commercial
black Angus cows in a cow-calf operation. We started utilizing A.I.on
the heifers in 1993 and have been impressed with the gains in our replacement heifers and have been doing that ever since. We started with 21st Century Genetics and have been with the co-op since then.

Why did you decide to become a delegate?
When I first became aware of the governance of the co-op, I was interested. At the time, I was one of the few beef guys sitting in a room of dairymen. And about 20 years younger. We had to stand up and give a speech as to why we should be elected and I did. I was surprised when I was elected, and that experience of going to the meeting made me realize it was important to be involved, provide input when asked and
to listen and learn about my cooperative.

What are your duties and responsibilities as a delegate?
The duties and responsibilities of a delegate are fairly easy. You attend the meetings and keep an open mind. You ask questions if they are important, and most importantly, you come to represent those members who elected you to this position. As a long time delegate for Nebraska, a lot of people know me. I have brought concerns of my members to the leadership to be addressed.

What type of time commitment is required of a delegate?
I give about a week a year for my duties as delegate. Three of those
days are for the meetings, three days are for traveling to the meetings
and one day is to attend the member appreciation meeting in my area. I
usually give a small speech at the member appreciation meeting about
why membership is important to all producers who qualify.

As a long-time Annual Meeting attendee, what has caught your attention?
The biggest thing that has always caught my attention at these Annual
Meetings is how accessible the management of our cooperative is.
Senior management is present and have been open to hear comments
and answer questions about topics and issues that we face. I also like
being able to talk to the beef procurement people about new bulls and of
course talking to producers from across the country.

What would you tell someone who may be considering getting involved
in the governance of their cooperative?
I would tell them that if they have any interest in it to ask questions first.
Make sure you have the time to make the meetings. Don't be afraid to
talk to people in the cooperative and to bring local concerns up at the
meetings. The co-op can only be as good as the people in it, and being a
delegate has been a very rewarding experience for me.

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