Three women have joined the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action board. New board members include Julie Fussner from Culver’s Franchising System, LLC, who was also appointed to USFRA’s Executive Committee; Janie Simms Hipp from the Native American Agriculture Fund; and Hope Bentley from McDonald’s.
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA), formerly the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, represents farmer- and rancher-led organizations as well as other leaders throughout the agriculture sector with a shared vision of co-creating sustainable food systems.
The USFRA Board is chaired by Anne Meis from Nebraska Soybean Board. Other members of USFRA’s Executive Committee include:
- Scott VanderWal, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president , vice chairman;
- Marilyn Hershey, Dairy Management, Inc. chairwoman, secretary;
- Doug Berven, Poet vice president of corporate affairs , at large-premier;
- Julie Fussner, Culver Franchising Systems LLC, vice president of marketing, at large; and
- Chip Bowling, National Corn Growers Association past chair, immediate past chair.
The treasurer position is open following the death of Blair Van Zetten from American Egg Board, who served as treasurer from 2018 until he passed away earlier this year.
The new chairwoman, Meis, grew up on a multi-generational hog farm and is a ten-year 4-H leader. In addition to her USFRA role, she serves on the Board of Directors of Nebraska Soybean Board. She and her husband, Jim, run a family farm operation in Elgin, Nebraska, growing corn, soybeans, alfalfa and raising cattle.
“I want to lead USFRA because it is critical that the farmer voice is part of the discussion of growing food in the 21st century,” Meis said. “My greatest hope is that there begins to be an increased trust in farmers and modern farming. A trust that farmers are true stewards of the land, water and resources and care about our environment.”
The new members
- Fussner is vice president of marketing for Culver Franchising System, where she oversees brand strategy, creative execution, media optimization, menu strategy and company events. She has spent the vast majority of the past 20 years working in food consumer packaged goods, including 10 years at Kraft Foods.
- Simms Hipp is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. Previously, she was the founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas and served as national program leader for Farm Financial Management, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Risk Management Education, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development programs at USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. She has been a senior advisor for tribal relations to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as well as director of the Office of Tribal Relations.
- Bentley leads the strategic sourcing function responsible for the McDonald’s core food menu across all 14,000 restaurants in the United States. She joined McDonald’s in 2007 and has held roles in food sourcing, supply chain services and new product development. Prior to McDonald's her twenty plus year career has included roles in operations, supply chain and marketing operations with Rockwell International, W. W. Grainger and ULTA. She is also a board member of the Chicago Urban League.
Others on the board of directors include:
- Nate Clark, director strategic business communications, John Deere;
- Andy Knepp, vice president, environmental strategy & industry activation, Bayer;
- Sally Rockey, executive director, Foundation for Future Agriculture;
- Lynn Rohrscheib, member, United Soybean Board; and
- Brody Stapel, president, Edge Dairy Farmers Cooperative.
USFRA’s Board of Directors will oversee the next steps of the organization’s Decade of Ag vision.