Assuring future of egg industry, by Michael Gustafson, Deer’s Landing Communications, Agri-Marketing Magazine, September-October

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The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) names United Egg Producers (UEP) President and CEO Chad Gregory as the 2021 Ag Association Leader of the Year.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Chad, recognizing his extraordinary leadership during this past year and in previous years, guiding the industry through difficult times,” says Tom Hertzfeld, Jr., UEP’s Chairman of the Board. “This award also reflects the work of UEP members who exemplify ‘Leadership by Egg Farmers for Egg Farmers,’ the UEP staff, and consultants, and contributions from industry stakeholders.”

LEADERSHIP BY EGG FARMERS

Gregory visits the farm of a UEP member in Ohio. The UEP team regularly connects with members to discuss opportunities and challenges in egg production.

UEP was established in 1968 as a national cooperative comprised of five regional marketing cooperatives. In 1998 the five regional offices consolidated services into one national organization headquartered in Atlanta, GA, and a by-law change allowed individual egg farmers to be direct members of the national group. As a result, egg farmers could provide greater input into initiatives and policy, UEP membership grew, and producers became highly engaged in national leadership.

In 2018 the organization celebrated 50 years of “Leadership by Egg Farmers for Egg Farmers.” Today egg farmers continue working to satisfy the evolving expectations of customers and the growing consumer population.

A 1993 Southern Illinois University graduate, Gregory leads this dynamic trade association and farmer cooperative that represents more than 90% of all eggs produced in the U.S. He works collaboratively to address legislative, regulatory, and advocacy issues that impact the industry.

For example, over the past decade, egg farmers have faced increased pressure to transition egg-layer housing systems to satisfy demand for cage-free eggs. Gregory’s pragmatic and calm approach has kept the egg farming community united and able to innovate during periods of uncertainty. He’s also thoughtfully interacted with other groups.

In 2015, Gregory provided steadfast leadership in the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, helping guide egg farmers through the most devastating avian disease outbreak the nation had ever seen.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an additional challenge, as well. Farmers nationwide have been faced with pivoting their production to meet changing consumer and customer demands.

Gregory continues to play a key role in preserving the industry and ensuring safety. His adaptability and forward-thinking have allowed for a rapid response. He has led efforts to shift egg production and distribution from foodservice markets to retail locations and has helped secure regulatory approval to do so as customer markets changed due to the pandemic.

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

In 2020 Gregory initiated and began implementing UEP’s 2020-2025 strategic priorities, developed under the leadership of a diverse group of egg production stakeholders.

He continues to make sure that everyone has a voice. By encouraging involvement and leveraging the strength of members at all levels, he’s shown a sincere concern for those he works with.

His compassion and sincere concern for the greater egg industry also are evident in his focus on mentoring and training the next generation. Through the establishment of UEP’s “Future Leaders” program, Gregory has cultivated a future by engaging young professionals.

Gregory is a committed founding member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs. This independent, multi-stakeholder organization includes members representing growers, integrators, processors, retailers, food service companies, civil society groups and NGOs, allied industries, and individuals. Its mission is to advance, support, and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability for the value chain.

In addition, Gregory is the U.S. representative to the International Egg Commission and sits on the Board of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that brings together farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, animal feed companies, animal health companies, processors, allied associations and others involved in getting food from farm to fork.

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