The Agricultural Retailers Association installed John Oster with Morral Companies in Ohio as chairman on Nov. 30 during the ARA Conference and Expo in Phoenix.
As he takes the gavel to lead ARA’s 26th year, Oster reflects on those who held the role before him.
“You can’t imagine what a daunting feeling that’s going through me right now when I look out at guys like Wendell Stratton, De Willard, Dan Weber—all the guys who are really icons in this thing we call our retail business,” Oster says. “I’m following in their footsteps, and I’m a little bit humbled. I hope to be able to do half as good a job as our outgoing chairman Mr. [Tim] McArdle.”
Accomplishments Of A Term
Oster follows McArdle, executive vice president with Brandt Consolidated. Among other accomplishments, McArdle’s term was highlighted by several key regulatory rollbacks affecting ag retail as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce red tape.
“Even when we talk about changing regulations to the downside, we still need leadership to make sure that’s done in the proper way, and ARA has done that,” he says.
McArdle references the experience as a privilege to serve as chairman.
“It’s a tremendous honor to represent (Brandt Consolidated) as the chairman of ARA,” he said during the conference. “I want to thank my company first and foremost for allowing me the time to do this because I’ve got a day job as well. I want to thank the people I work with because right now a lot of them aren’t here, and they’re back in Illinois spreading fertilizer and applying ammonia this morning to keep our business going.”
Particularly after his involvement in the board, he also praises the mission, staff and capabilities of ARA.
“ARA puts retailers first,” McArdle says. “I do not believe there’s another organization nationally that’s able to do that. We are a diverse membership, but the retailer comes first.”
Passing Of The Gavel
McArdle congratulates Oster and welcomes him to the role within the association.
“John’s a very capable industry veteran,” he adds. “It’s in good hands.”
Oster says he’s working on a game plan to sustain the excellence of ARA in 2018. One area where ARA will be very active in the coming year is sharing input about developing the new farm bill.
“Although we are a small percentage of the total outlay for the farm bill, what we do is extremely important,” Oster adds. “We want to bring a common-sense approach to it. As (Congress) debates, we want to have input. We are challenging our members to get ahold of their representatives and let them know how they feel.”
Priorities in the Year Ahead
He’d like ARA to work closely with new administration officials such as Sonny Perdue and Scott Pruitt on regulations impacting the industry. Oster also aims to help the industry do an even better job of telling agriculture’s winning story.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Oster shares. “2018 is going to be an exciting year full of challenges but full of real rewards.”