The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today announced the retirement of President Kendell W. Keith after more than 31 years of distinguished, dedicated service, including 25 years as its top executive staff officer.
“The industry is extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of Kendell’s strong leadership, vision, hard work and unswerving dedication for more than three decades,” said NGFA Chairman Hal Reed, chief operating officer for The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio. “Working with our Board of Directors and industry committees, he literally elevated the NGFA to the preeminent national leadership role on rail, commodity and futures market, agricultural, grain warehouse, and many other critical public policy areas.”
Keith is only the fifth person to serve as the NGFA’s chief staff officer, and only the second to serve a quarter century or longer. Established in 1896, the NGFA is the nation’s premier agribusiness trade association, consisting of more than 1,050-member companies that operate in excess of 7,000 facilities that handle more than 70 percent of the U.S. grain and oilseed crop.
Prior to being elected NGFA’s president in 1987, Mr. Keith served as vice president and corporate secretary/treasurer from 1985-87. In that capacity, he administered the operation of the NGFA’s unique and time-honored Trade Rules and Arbitration System.
He joined the NGFA’s staff in 1980 as director of economic services, with expertise in a wide range of public policy matters, including government commodity, agricultural policy and grain storage programs; international trade; domestic grain markets; and livestock marketing. He earned his undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University.
Randall C. (Randy) Gordon, a 33-year veteran of the NGFA’s staff who currently serves as vice president of communications and government relations, has been selected to serve as NGFA’s acting president.
NGFA Executive Committee Chairman Tom Coyle noted that in a matter of months after joining the NGFA’s staff in 1980, Keith worked with the Reagan administration’s new leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve dramatically the efficiency and reduce the overhead costs of its federal grain inspection service. “He never let up, using facts, consistency and objectivity to constantly elevate the NGFA’s influence on federal policies that are absolutely essential to the efficient functioning of our industry and the free enterprise system,” said Coyle, general manager for Nidera North America Grain and Oilseeds, Chicago, IL.
Mr. Keith said his work at the NGFA had been “extremely gratifying.”
“There are few things I would change about that part of my career,” Keith said. “NGFA, as a major agribusiness organization, has had huge success in Congress and with the federal government in farm policy, trade policy, environmental policy, transportation, feed and food industry issues, and many other areas.” He attributed those successes to a strong commitment from staff and industry volunteers “to get the job done, and to represent this industry with the highest integrity and in the professional manner it deserves.”
Keith said that perhaps the most satisfying part of his career with the NGFA involved the consistent application of the organization’s overriding philosophy. “The NGFA’s membership believes in free markets and economic growth through free enterprise,” he said. “The organization is committed to a sound and respected government that does not unnecessarily interfere with a capitalist economy, enabling it to perform to its highest potential to generate higher incomes and good jobs.”
Keith said that “with this kind of consistent philosophy, the NGFA positioned itself with a high degree of credibility” in Washington’s policy-making environment. “Given the challenges facing the federal government today in trying to reshape its role to be more effective and affordable, the NGFA’s message is needed more than ever,” he added.