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Deb Keller new chair of U.S. Grains CouncilDeb Keller new chair of U.S. Grains Council

Iowa Corn leader is the first woman to serve as head of USGC in its 60-year history.

Rod Swoboda 1

August 7, 2017

3 Min Read
LOOKING AHEAD: “The USGC’s work must look at today and far into tomorrow, to be responsive to market conditions now and seeking to develop robust markets for future years and future generations,” says new USGC Chairwoman Deb Keller.

A farmer from Clarion in north-central Iowa, Deb Keller, was elected chairwoman of the U.S. Grains Council Aug. 2 at the organization’s 57th annual board of delegates meeting in Vancouver, Wash.

Keller, who represents Iowa corn farmers with her USGC board seat, is a second-generation farmer and past chairwoman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. She’s the first woman to serve as chair in USGC’s 60-year history.

“Thinking ahead, I see so many areas for growth, but I also see challenges that will take much time and patience to see through,” Keller shared during her incoming chairman’s remarks. “After working with our delegates, the board and our staff both internationally and domestically, I know we can be successful together in growing the demand for grains in all forms for the growing global middle class.”

Looking to future opportunities for corn
Keller introduced the theme of the upcoming year, “Friends and Frontiers,” reflecting both the opportunities and challenges of the current world-trade environment. “We all know how important it is to maintain relationships with our old trading partners and friends,” she told the delegation. “And we are also looking to the future, to new opportunities. Those new frontiers exist throughout our ag industry and around the globe. There are so many places where we must continue to work to build new demand for grain in all forms for today and tomorrow.”

Deb Keller is past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

Keller has been working toward becoming chair of the council for the last 10 years. “As a corn farmer, I always knew how important markets were, but I wasn’t aware of all the intricacies involved in enabling trade,” she says. “I’ve come to appreciate how much USGC does for me as a farmer, not only developing markets, but also enabling trade for us as farmers.”

Past chair of Iowa Corn Promotion Board
Keller credits her work as leader of a USGC Advisory Team in helping her understand how overseas demand connects back to the farm. “Leading an A-team provided me an understanding of specific markets, to really drill down in a certain part of the world, to take information in little bites,” she says. “Now when I focus on the big picture, I can put all those little pieces together.” 

She is past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and has served on Iowa Corn’s Research and Business Development Committee and on the Exports and Grain Trade Committee.

“Deb has given a lot of time and leadership as an advocate for agriculture at the local, state and national level,” says Iowa Corn CEO Craig Floss, who serves on the USGC board as state checkoff sector director. “No doubt she will do an outstanding job representing Iowa’s corn farmers as USGC chair.”

Keller earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University and has farmed in Wright County, Iowa, for more than 25 years with her husband, Gary. They have three children.

Gallagher recognized for dedicated service
Also representing Iowa farmers, Dick Gallagher has served for the past four years on the USGC board of directors as its corn sector director. Gallagher’s term expired at the 2017 meeting. “We thank him for his service and representation of the corn sector,” says Floss. Gallagher farms near the town of Washington in southeast Iowa, and has served as ICPB chair and currently serves on the Iowa Corn Exports and Grain Trade Committee.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association is a 7,500-member grassroots organization, based in Johnston, serving members across the state, and lobbying on ag issues on behalf of its farmer-members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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