By MITCH LIES
Oregon blueberry grower and Monsanto Co. executive Carl Casale has been named president and chief executive officer of CHS Inc.
Casale, who received his undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Oregon State University, will succeed John Johnson, who retires Dec. 31.
"The CHS Board believes that in Carl Casale, we've found an individual whose impressive depth of domestic and global agribusiness knowledge, strategic ability, financial acumen and leadership experience will carry CHS forward," CHS Board Chairman Michael Toelle said in a prepared statement.
"Most of all, we believe we've selected a candidate whose rural roots, active involvement in agriculture, personal style and values are compatible with our culture and our strong, producer-focused company," Toelle said.
"I am impressed with his ability to listen to people and to connect with whatever group he is talking to," Dave Bielenberg, a Silverton, Ore., farmer who serves on the CHS Board, said in a phone interview.
"An added plus for me is to have the Oregon State University and the Oregon connection," said Bielenberg, who also graduated from OSU.
Casale and his wife, Kim, operate a family-owned blueberry farm near Aurora, Ore.
Casale joined Monsanto in 1984 as a sales representative in Eastern Washington. He held several executive positions over the years, assuming his most recent position as CFO in 2009.
In a prepared statement, Casale said he was happy to be moving to a farmer-owned cooperative.
"I feel privileged and excited to be part of a company owned by farmers and ranchers and to help CHS embrace new opportunities to add value for producers in a dynamic global marketplace," Casale said.
In addition to his undergraduate degree, Casale holds an executive master's degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
OSU College of Agricultural Sciences named Casale its 2009 alumni fellow.
CHS, a Fortune 100 company based in St. Paul, Minn., is a diversified energy, grain and food cooperative owned by farmers, ranchers, cooperatives and stockholders.