Iowa Corn leader Keller becomes US Grains Council chair

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON — Deb Keller, a farmer from Clarion, was elected as U.S. Grains Council chair on Wednesday at the organization’s 57th annual board of delegates meeting in Vancouver, Washington.

Keller, who represents Iowa corn farmers with her USGC board seat, is a second-generation farmer and the past chair of the Iowa Corn promotion board. She will be the first woman to serve as chair in USGC’s 60-year history.

“Thinking ahead, I see so many areas for growth, but I also see challenges that will take much time and patience to see through,” Keller said during her incoming chairman’s remarks. “After working with our delegates, the board and our staff both internationally and domestically, I know we can be successful together in growing demand for grains in all forms to the growing global middle class.”

Keller has been working toward becoming a chair of the council for the last 10 years, she said.

“As a corn farmer, I always knew how important markets were, but I wasn’t aware of all the intricacies involved in enabling trade,” she said. “I’ve come to appreciate how much the council does for me as a farmer, not only developing markets, but also enabling trade for us as farmers.”

Keller credits her work as the leader of a USGC advisory team in helping her understand how overseas demand connects back to the farm.

“Leading an A-team provided me an understanding of specific markets, to really drill down in a certain part of the world, to take information in little bites,” she said.

“Now when I focus on the big picture, I can put all those little pieces together.”

Keller is the past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and has served on Iowa Corn’s Research & Business Development Committee and the Exports & Grain Trade Committee.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University and has farmed in Wright County for more than 25 years with her husband, Gary.