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NCFC Honors Bryant, Knock as Outstanding Co-op Leaders

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (February 15, 2024)—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today announced the organization’s two awards that recognize outstanding leadership of and contributions to the farmer co-op community. Jay Bryant, president & CEO of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, was named the Robert B. Engel Farmer Cooperative Manager of the Year. Wally Knock, a director for Agtegra, was announced as the Farmer Co-op Director of the Year. The announcements came at NCFC’s 95thAnnual Meeting, being held this week at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I congratulate both Jay and Wally on receiving these awards; as winners, they truly reflect the strength and vitality of farmer co-ops, both in the board room and the executive suite,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “Jay’s tenure leading Maryland/Virginia has helped guide the co-op and its members through a time of dramatic change in the dairy industry and has transformed the co-op to achieve continued success as these changes continue. Wally’s impact has been felt far and wide, from the Agtegra boardroom to his local community to Washington, D.C.; no one represents the farmer co-op ideal as well as Wally Knock.”

Bryant has been with Maryland/Virginia for 37 years and has been CEO for 21 of those. In that time, the co-op’s plant capacity has grown 55percent, achieved through the strategic acquisition of two new plants. Over the last 20 years, they have seen a 100% in sales revenue and gross profits on goods sold have increased by 150 percent.

Knock operates a diversified crop and livestock farm in eastern South Dakota with his wife, Kathy, son, Jared, and daughter in law Katie; they grow corn, soybeans, wheat and forage and have a cow-calf operation, contract hog finishing, and a sheep enterprise. He has been a member of the co-op for 45 years and has served on the board for 22 and is also a current director on the Land O’Lakes corporate board. As a member of Agtegra’s Community Relations Committee, Knock has been a frequent spokesperson and resource at community and member meetings for a number of mergers and unification efforts with other co-ops and their members.

In addition to the recognition at NCFC’s Annual Meeting, each award comes with contributions made in the winner’s name to a local 501(c)3charity—in the case of the Robert B. Engel award—or a land grant college or university—for the Director of the Year award.

About NCFC

Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn consist of nearly 2,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country.  NCFC members also include 17state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.

America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity.  They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.

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