Fletcher receives Distinguished Fellow of Agribusiness award

Monday, November 5, 2007
Butch Fletcher, left, accepts the MO-AG Distinguished Fellow of Agribusiness award from Tom Stallings, MO-AG Immediate Past Chairman, Van Diest Supply Company, Marshall and MO-AG staff members Jim Russell and Mark Wade. (Contributed photo)

Standing behind, and in some cases, pushing up Missouri agribusinesses is something that sets apart this year's inaugural recipient of the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) Distinguished Fellow of Agribusiness award.

MO-AG members have honored Walker C. "Butch" Fletcher of Marshall for all he has given to the agribusiness community, according to a MO-AG news release.

The MO-AG Distinguished Fellow of Agribusiness award was created to recognize those who have helped agribusiness, whether by helping others new to the business or thinking of inventive ways to improve current practices.

Fletcher built his agribusiness empire in Marshall using his skills from a childhood on the farm and lessons in life, according to the news release.

A U.S. Marine, he took over Fletcher Grain Company in January 1954 from his father, who started it in 1913.

Over a period of 45 years, he transformed it from a 20,000-bushel wooden elevator operation to a grain company with storage for 9 million bushels of grain in three locations.

Fletcher Grain was one of the first companies to sell chemicals and sprayers to apply those chemicals, and he built one of the first dry fertilizer plants in Saline County.

In 1955, Fletcher started selling feed as a Nutrena dealer and did that for the entire time he was in business.

A lot of what made Fletcher what he is today is that he surrounded himself with good people, according to the news release. He likes to say that his best business decision was hiring Gabe Ramsey in the mid-1970s.

Many MO-AG members have gotten to work with Fletcher over the years.

In 1977, Fletcher and Bill Jackson started the Brunswick River Terminal in Brunswick.

"Mr. Fletcher is the best mentor, friend and partner anyone could ever have," Jackson said.

They began with a bulk fertilizer storage building and added a grain elevator and a retail fertilizer business with Bill Riggins a few years later.

Fletcher later purchased Riggins' part of that endeavor.

In 1998, they leased the Brunswick River Terminal to AgriServices of Brunswick, and the family still owns part of it with Bill Jackson, whom Fletcher thinks is a great partner.

On September 1, 1999, Fletcher leased the Fletcher Grain property to Central Missouri AgriServices and then turned the management over to his son, John Fletcher, in 2005.

The elder Fletcher has also been involved in community groups and agribusiness organizations.

He has been a member of the National Grain & Feed Association for 35 years and served as the MO-AG-appointed representative to their board of directors for six years.

Fletcher was an important member of the Missouri Agribusiness Association before it became MO-AG.

He was a 40-year member of Missouri Grain & Feed Dealers, serving on the board for a number of years.

In the Marshall community, Fletcher has also devoted many hours to service.

He has served on the Missouri Valley College Board of Trustees since 1977, and he received the honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Missouri Valley in 2000.

He was also a member of Farmers Savings Bank Board of Directors in Marshall until the board was terminated when the bank was bought out by a succession of banks.

Active in his church, Fletcher has served as deacon, elder, treasurer and board chairman of First Christian Church in Marshall.

He was an honorary campaign chairman for the capital campaign for Nicolas-Beasley Air Museum and Community Center, currently being built in Marshall.

Fletcher married Marjorie Sherlock of Rossville, Ind., in February of 1954 and has four children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

In 1963, he bought a farm with a hog and cattle operation.

In 1972, he started Boland & Fletcher Hog Farm, raising 5,000 farrow-to-finish hogs.

He closed the operation in 2003 because of deteriorating buildings and the difficulty he encountered in trying to find good help.

For the last seven years, Fletcher and his wife have spent more than half of the year in Sun City Center, Fla, and love trying to play golf.

Jim Russell, Missouri Agribusiness Association president, said Fletcher is very deserving of the award.

"I feel lucky to know Butch," he said. "He has helped make agriculture what it is today."

MO-AG is a voluntary membership organization representing the interests of Missouri's agribusinesses.

MO-AG is dedicated to securing the future of Missouri agribusiness by providing the information, programs and representation necessary to meet the challenges of tomorrow's business environment while working to maintain an abundant supply of food and natural resources.

o find out more, go to the organization's Web site at www.mo-ag.com.

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