Dave Christiansen Receives 2020 Friend of Agriculture
(Article written by Cindy Baldwin)
Dave Christiansen has been selected by the McPherson Chamber Ag Committee as the 2020 Friend of Agriculture. Christiansen, who has worked in cooperatives since his first job unloading wheat trucks as a 17-year-old at the Great Bend elevator, retired from Mid Kansas Cooperative (MKC) based in Moundridge in April 2020 after 16 years as president and CEO of the coop. MKC was formed with the merger of three cooperatives in Moundridge, Buhler and Groveland and has grown from its core territory in McPherson, Reno and Harvey Counties to nearly 50 locations in an area stretching from Plains to Paola, Manhattan to the Oklahoma border, with most of that growth occurring during Christiansen’s tenure.
Christiansen said that while the success of the coop was important, its stated mission was to “help farmers be more successful every day” and, by extension, add value to their communities. “We wanted to do what’s best for the farmer.” It is for that commitment to adding value to the farm economy and rural communities which MKC serves that Christiansen is being recognized.
As member-owned businesses, coops were formed to provide improved opportunities for their member farmers. “We knew our job was reinvesting in rural America for the betterment of our members,” Christiansen said. Under his leadership, MKC has made infrastructure improvements, added new services, introduced technology, and provided educational opportunities for members, essentially transitioning it from a mid-20th century business model to a modern one that can efficiently handle grain and inputs, and provide technology support to area farmers.
“We produce more than we can consume locally,” Christiansen said, adding that for MKC’s members to be successful and receive the best price possible, the coop had to improve its abilities to handle and market grain to the wider market. Providing storage and marketing vehicles — such as the terminal between Canton and Galva and TMA, LLC, — along with other services were all critical to that financial success, he said.
That commitment to investment extended beyond farming operations to the community at large. Supporting youth leadership opportunities has been a focus through sponsorships and donations to 4-H and FFA groups in MKC-served communities, state-wide and local Ag in the Classroom activities, scholarships, and an intern partnership with Kansas State University, which provides job options in local communities. The MKC Way employee committee was established to look for local projects which allow employees to impact their communities and have included organizing food, coat and blood drives and safety and educational events. The coop sponsors a variety of appreciation and educational events for members, often partnering with other community groups.
“The MKC Way Committee gives our over 600 employees options to give back to the communities in which they live and raise their families,” Christiansen said. He gave credit to the board members he has worked with over the years and MKC employees for supporting efforts to invest in the farming infrastructure, economy, and communities in the MKC trade area.
For his leadership in these efforts, we recognize Dave Christiansen as a Friend of Agriculture.