Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart on Monday announced that Jason Brancel has been named the next president & CEO of the farmer-owned cooperative.
Brancel is the current head of the agricultural cooperative Agfinity Inc. of Loveland, Colorado. He's set to take over at Riceland in April, the cooperative said in a news release. Brancel follows Danny Kennedy, who retired in July after 21 years with Riceland.
Andrew Dallas has been serving as interim president, as well as vice president and legal counsel. He'll continue as vice president and general counsel.
Brancel was unanimously appointed by Riceland's board of directors after a national search that yielded 29 candidates. His 28 years of experience in cooperative leadership was the "defining factor" in the hiring decision, the release says. Brancel has led Agfinity for more than six years and spent the previous six years at Landmark Services Cooperative of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, in roles including CFO, executive vice president of administration and chief credit officer.
Roger Pohlner, Riceland chairman of the board, said Brancel is a "value-driven, fiscally responsible and forward looking leader" that will help Riceland adapt and grow. John Cooper, chairman of the selection committee and member of the board of directors, said Brancel brings a "high performance mindset" and "ability to create collaborative relationships." Riceland has 5,500 farmer members.
Brancel said in a statement that successful cooperatives keep their members at the heart of their decisions, and he stressed the importance of communication and collaboration with members.
"Technology provides convenience for spreading information quickly, but there really is no substitute for in-person communication across large and complex cooperatives like Riceland Foods," he said. "At the end of the day, my goal is to inspire our team to provide innovative solutions to challenges members find difficult to solve on their own. I eagerly look forward to learning from and working closely with the Riceland Foods team while also traveling throughout our member service area to engage with our farmer-members, so that together we can build upon the success Riceland has found in creating solutions over the last 100 years."
Brancel was named head of Riceland amid a $13.2 million expansion that will bring 80 total new jobs to its Jonesboro and Stuttgart plants. The expansion includes upgrades to existing lines and renovation of existing facilities.
Riceland employs about 1,500 people and receives, stores, transports and processes more than 2.5 million tons of grain each year.
Brancel holds a bachelor's from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and has completed coursework at the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership at the University of Missouri; Cenex Land O’Lakes General Manager’s Leadership Institute; CHS Future 40 Program at the University of Minnesota; FCC Services Advanced Leadership Program, and Leading for Results at North Dakota State University.
He serves on the Land O’Lakes Executive Council and the Northern Colorado and Wyoming Better Business Bureau’s board of directors. His volunteer activities have been centered around youth education, economic development and financial institution board service.