The North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) honored a preeminent Canadian grain industry leader with its highest award during the organization’s centennial convention recently.
Dennis Stephens was presented by NAEGA with its Amstutz Award for exceptional accomplishment and distinguished leadership in free trade and promotion of agriculture. Stephens, only the eighth recipient of the award, is the first non-U.S. citizen to be so honored. He was recognized on Feb. 23 during the association’s Gala Centennial Celebration.
The award was established by NAEGA in 1998 in honor of its former President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel G. Amstutz, a long-time U.S. grain industry leader and former undersecretary of agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NAEGA, a not-for-profit trade association established in 1912, consists of private and publicly owned companies and farmer-owned cooperatives that are involved in and provide services to the bulk grain and oilseed exporting industry.
Stephens, born, raised and educated in Manitoba, Canada, has spent much of his 45-year industry career involved in international grain trade advocacy. His career began in 1967 at Federal Grain Limited, a large publicly traded Canadian grain company. He later served as one of the first staff members at the Canadian International Grains Institute, where he eventually became its executive director.
He also served as assistant deputy minister of the National Grains Bureau at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. A strong, consistent advocate for adoption of commercially acceptable regulatory frameworks to minimize trade disruptions, Stephens currently serves as a consultant to the Canada Grains Council. He also is secretary of the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC), an organization that represents the commercial interests of the grain industry worldwide. Under his leadership, IGTC membership has grown to 23 trade organizations, including NAEGA, representing more than 8,000 members operating in more than 80 countries.
The Amstutz Award is presented by NAEGA only periodically in recognition of extraordinary and noteworthy contributions in promoting export grain and oilseed trade that are deserving of special recognition. Previous recipients are former NAEGA Board of Directors Chairman Bill Hale of Cargill Inc.; Arvid Hawk, also formerly of Cargill; Walter Muff, formerly of Garnac Grain; U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; and the late Michel Fribourg, chairman and chief executive officer of the former Continental Grain Co.; as well as Amstutz, the award’s first recipient.