Washington, DC (January 2, 2009) — Charles F. Conner has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the interests of U.S. agricultural cooperatives. Conner brings more than 25 years of national and state government, agricultural and trade association experience to his new position. Conner has served as Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Agriculture since May 2005.
“We were extremely impressed with Mr. Conner’s career accomplishments, the depth and breadth of his governmental and industry experience, as well as his keen understanding of agricultural policy, trade issues and the business challenges facing U.S. agriculture in general and agricultural cooperatives in particular,” noted Bill Davisson, NCFC’s chairman the chief executive officer of GROWMARK, who lead the search committee. “He is uniquely qualified to lead NCFC at a critical time when the needs of NCFC members are changing in a highly competitive global business environment.”
Davisson continued, “Mr. Conner will bring a fresh perspective and dynamic leadership to NCFC. He has a passion for agriculture and a strong commitment to the future success of agricultural cooperatives.”
Conner will begin his new position as president and CEO of NCFC on or about February 1, 2009. As Deputy Secretary for the USDA, Conner served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) overseeing day-to-day operations including development of a $95 billion budget for the 26 USDA agencies representing 300 programs and more than 100,000 employees. He represented the USDA on the President’s Management Council providing executive expertise to proposed government-wide policy direction on key management initiatives, and effectively communicating all aspects of the USDA mission to internal and external audiences through speeches, presentations and forums. Conner interacted directly with President George W. Bush and his senior staff to formulate domestic and international food, trade, security and energy policy. He led development of the Bush Administration’s $300 billion Farm Bill proposal and the strategy to educate and inform industry, constituents and Congress.
From August 2007 to January 2008, Conner served as USDA Secretary and Deputy Secretary. He led an official delegation to Colombia and to a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy, to enhance the United States’ role in influencing global food and trade issues. In addition, he played a key role in developing the Administration’s immigration policy including important changes to the H2A program. His role in communicating USDA policy involved print and television media, including live appearances on Fox News, CSPAN, and the Squawk Box.
Conner’s experience also includes the assignment of Special Assistant to the President, Executive Office of the President, from October 2001 to May 2005. In this role, he worked directly with President George W. Bush and his senior staff on the 2001/02 Farm Bill to develop the strategy behind the transfer of several USDA agency functions to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.
From May 1997 to October 2001 Conner served as President of the Corn Refiners Association. He navigated and negotiated the interests of both large and small companies to gain consensus on the association’s budget and policy direction. In addition, he directed a successful World Trade Organization (WTO) and NAFTA trade case against the Government of Mexico.
Conner is a graduate of Purdue University, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree and is the recipient of Purdue’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He and his wife Dru have four children.
Kelly Kincannon, chairman of the global executive search firm Kincannon & Reed, assisted the NCFC search committee in recruiting Mr. Conner as the new President and CEO.
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process and market agricultural commodities and related products, furnish farm supplies, and provide credit and related financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 300,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.
Additional information about NCFC can be found at www.ncfc.org.