Greg Gibson, Mideast Area Council member
Mason Run Farm
Bruceton Mills, W.Va.
Greg Gibson, a fifth-generation dairy farmer, has long believed in playing an active role in his Cooperative. Since he was 18, he has served as a delegate, first for a Dairy Farmers of America predecessor cooperative, then for DFA. He recently joined the Mideast Area Council to fill the unexpired term of Tom Croner, a longtime dairy farmer and mentor to Gibson, who recently retired.
What is your responsibility as a Mideast Area Council member?
Our role as a council is to act as a sounding board for management decisions, to give input and to represent members’ interests. We take the concerns of the members in our district and get them in front of management. Sometimes it’s hard to balance the interests of members with the demands of the marketplace. It’s our job to keep that balance in the forefront of management’s decisions. It’s also our job to keep the benefits of DFA in the minds of members. We have a lot of programs and services that are beneficial. I really try to get young people involved in the Young Cooperator program and make them understand the value of their participation. Tom (Croner) used to always tell us that our Cooperative is only as strong as the participation of our members, and I believe that. I think it’s very important to be involved and very rewarding too.
How do you communicate the council’s actions with your members?
Sometimes it’s hard because I’m a little isolated where I’m at. But, I’m really working on fostering a network of people — delegates and fellow members — who feel comfortable calling me with a question or a concern.
How do the council and management work together?
I was surprised, when I joined the council, about the impact it has on management decisions. It has more impact than I expected. It’s a hectic time right now in the Mideast Area. Recently, supply and demand got out of balance in the Area and we had to institute a balancing charge. No one wanted to do that, but we agreed that we wanted to pay as we went and not have this impact us worse later. When the market and the economy turn against us, there’s not a lot we can do.
Brad Keating, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Eastern Fluid Group, does a good job of keeping us informed of the market conditions and what our customers are asking for. He’s also challenged us to think about decisions and come back with ideas. He very much wants our opinion and trusts us to put members first.
Why do you believe it’s important to serve in a leadership role in the Cooperative?
My father was a great believer in cooperatives. Years and years ago, he told me a story about when everyone was first transferring to using bulk tanks. Haulers began to pick off who were the easy stops with tanks, and would skip the little guys who hadn’t switched over yet. The cooperative stepped in and told the haulers they had to get together and schedule routes and they went out and got bids from different haulers. It really showed what cooperatives can do and that it’s better for everyone when you work together.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of serving in a leadership role in the Cooperative?