Whether she’s meeting with potential buyers in China, weighing a new crop option or sitting at a table surrounded by her family council, Becky Meeuwsen Berger knows tough times don’t define you – they propel you. And, through hard work and focus, no challenge is too great.
Around 40 years ago, Berger married into a farming family. Her father-in-law retired early, so her husband took over. At age 30, Berger’s husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which eventually took his life in 2011.
Seeing and understanding the need, Berger slowly started absorbing more and more responsibilities with the farm. After her husband’s death, she purchased the business. Today, she’s the CEO of Berger International, which focuses on grass seed production and distribution, based in Hillsboro, Ore.
Berger International primarily produces tall fescue seed, however it also includes 3,200 acres of wheat, hemp and hazelnut production.
Most grass seed farms grow seed under contract. About a decade ago, Berger purchased a few varieties to grow and market independently. Through a focus on quality and market development, they now sell their products into China and was recently approved to sell into Europe. Today, they have contract growers of their own.
Berger isn’t afraid of change. Her innovative approach has led her to recapitalize the farm, revamp the company’s organizational structure expand into new crops and form a family council.
Berger International employs seven full-time and six part-time team members. This team includes some of Berger’s six children and husband, Earl, who she married in 2015.
As Berger looks at the future, she’s focused on continuous improvement, advocating on behalf of her farmer-peers and family harmony.
Sponsored by BASF, Rabo AgriFinance and Case IH, the Top Producer of the Year contest is in its 21st year and represents the best in the business of farming. Three finalists are chosen from numerous applications by a panel of judges based on entrepreneurial originality; financial and business progress; and industry and community leadership.
The three finalists received all-expense-paid trips to attend the Summit, as well as sessions with a CEO coach, courtesy of BASF. The winner also receives the tractor of their choice, either a Steiger Rowtrac or a Magnum Rowtrac from Case IH, for 150 hours of use on their farm, courtesy of Case IH. From Rabo AgriFinance, the winner receives a spot on one of the company’s upcoming “Connections in Global Ag” international trips.
This week’s Top Producer Summit in Chicago included Top Producer Seminar, Tomorrow’s Top Producer, Executive Women in Agriculture (EWA), Legacy Project Conference and Hemp College. for a week of networking and education for the nation’s executive farmers. More than 900 participants attended the Summit, including producers representing 4 million acres from 35 states and Canada.
This year’s seminar featured more than 30 different educational sessions around the theme “Drive 2020: All Systems Go,” for producers to hone their money, marketing and management skills.
Learn more about Top Producer Summit at www.TPSummit.com. Sponsors include:
Platinum: Syngenta, Case IH, Bayer, Channel, Rabo AgriFinance and Fendt
Gold: Valent and Becks Hybrids
Silver: Corteva, BASF, AgXplore, Pioneer, Pivot Bio and Top Third Ag Marketing
Bronze: Farmers Mutual Hail, KCOE ISOM, Claas, Clifton Larson Allen, Conservis, Granular, Lincoln Financial and Ag Spectrum