Riceland Foods named Jason Brancel as President and Chief Executive Officer on Monday (March 14). He replaces Danny Kennedy, who retired from his 21-year career with Riceland in July 2021.
“Jason has nearly three decades of impactful cooperative leadership experience, four years of which were with the largest farmer owned cooperative in the United States,” said Chairman of the Board of Directors Roger Pohlner. “He is the ideal value-driven, fiscally responsible and forward looking leader for Riceland as it adapts and grows into its second century of service to its farmer-members, employees, customers and suppliers. We enthusiastically welcome Jason to Riceland Foods.”
Brancel’s experience in cooperative leadership was the defining factor in the board’s hiring decision, according to a company release.
“Successful cooperatives bring an intense focus to the needs of their members, always keeping them at the heart of the business and its decisions. member communication and collaboration are of the utmost importance, and these days, communication takes many shapes and forms,” Brancel said. “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. 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.”
A selection committee comprised of six members of the Board of Directors conducted a search beginning in July 2021. FCCS, a provider of specialized executive searches in the cooperative agriculture segment, was engaged to facilitate the recruitment process. A large initial prospect pool of 29 candidates was identified, considered, and narrowed in stages until a final round of four candidates was considered by the full Board of Directors.
“We’re confident Jason is the right CEO to lead Riceland in its next chapter of growth and success,” said John Cooper, Chairman of the selection committee and member of the Board of Directors. “It was evident to the committee almost immediately that Jason’s passion for our mission, business acumen, high performance mindset, and ability to create collaborative relationships between members and the cooperative’s team members would align well with the work of Riceland Foods and the markets we serve.”
Brancel brings over a decade of C-Suite level experience in cooperative leadership, including his current role as President and CEO of Agfinity, Inc. of Loveland, Colorado. His employment with Riceland will commence in April. Andrew Dallas, who has been serving as Interim President as well as Vice President and Legal Counsel for the last nine months will continue as Vice President and General Counsel.