My Summer With Land O’ LakesShare
When I received an offer to intern with Land O’Lakes, Inc., I had to stop and do a double take. For a guy who has grown up in the beef world, the idea of a “dairy thing” was a little out of my comfort zone to say the least. I accepted the offer because the program sounded great, but I was unsure of what all of my beef friends would think of me when I accepted a position to intern with “the butter people.” Growing up I had become accustomed to making jokes about dairy cows compared to beef cattle, and in my part of the world the dairy people were the “weird” ones.
Throughout the school year that anxious thought of “what am I getting myself into” lingered in the back of my mind, and as the summer approached, I almost became nauseous at the thought of moving 9 hours away from home to live in a city with more people than my entire home state. Finally, the summer started, and the instant that Beth Ford, the Land O’Lakes CEO, addressed our intern class at orientation and provided insight as to what Land O’Lakes really is, all that anxiety of whether or not I made the right choice washed away.
What I found was something way more than just butter and milk. Land O’Lakes is made up of thousands of employees and some of the most trusted brands in agriculture: Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina, SUSTAIN, and Winfield United. As I have discovered throughout the summer, not only is Land O’Lakes interested in being a leader in agriculture, but they are also driven to be thought leaders globally with the intention of feeding human progress. They take sustainability and the idea of preserving our natural resources seriously as SUSTAIN is a business dedicated solely to developing sustainable practices on farm with producers. I had found a company that is leveraging their position in the agriculture and food sectors to create legislative progress that benefits all at both the state and federal levels.
Not only is Land O’Lakes advocating for their businesses, but they are also member owned and member driven to make decisions based on what is best for their member-owners. It is evident the culture is centered around making the best decisions for the producers: both in business growth and financially. The cooperative model is one that hit home for me this summer on our trip to visit Ceres Solutions in Indiana. It was here, at the ag-retailer level, that I found the most humbling and apparent impacts that Land O’Lakes is having on the producers. We witnessed Jeff Troike and Betsy Bower, with their passions for sustainability at the producer level, fully supporting and emphasizing the environmental and economical benefits of utilizing the Truterra Insights Engine on farm. In addition we witnessed the patronage from the cooperative system immediately impacting the local communities that Ceres serves in the form of donations to the local food bank and support of youth agricultural organizations. It was here I found my most profound connection to the values and ideals that have bonded the agricultural industry together for hundreds of years, and that connection is something I cannot forget.
The most important lesson I learned this past summer with Land O’Lakes is that whether you are big or small, from an ag background or urban, a scientist or business consultant, conventional or organic, or so many more: the future of agriculture has a place for you. This statement is shown clearly through Land O’Lakes’ 10,000+ employees, and wherever you may fall, the company that is more than just butter has a place for you.