Former CHS chairman dies

by Eric Schroeder
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MORO, ORE. — Steve Burnet, an Oregon farmer and cooperative leader who helped create CHS Inc., died Jan. 19. He was 72.

Mr. Burnet was instrumental in several cooperative mergers, most notably the 1998 unification of former Harvest States Cooperatives and Cenex, Inc., to form CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company. In the early 1980s, he helped lead the merger of North Pacific Grain Growers of Oregon with Farmers Union Grain Terminal Association of St. Paul, Minn., to create Harvest States.

“Steve’s vision, dedication, quiet leadership and gentle humor played invaluable roles in setting future direction and in helping cooperatives address challenging organizational changes and emerge even stronger,” said David Bielenberg, chairman of CHS. “He viewed the cooperative system as a tool essential to producers’ success and helped CHS become a leading domestic and global agricultural and energy company committed to adding value for its U.S. farmer and cooperative owners.”

Mr. Burnet began his cooperative service on his local Moro and Sherman County cooperative boards, helping to guide them through mergers that ultimately created Mid-Columbia Grain Growers. He was a director and officer of North Pacific Grain Growers from 1978 to 1983. Following the 1983 formation of Harvest States, he served five years as chairman of the new organization. After the creation of CHS, he was its chairman for three years, retiring in 2002.

He operated a wheat and barley farm in north central Oregon’s dryland region, along with a cow/calf and yearling operation with irrigated hay and pasture. He also was active in agricultural organizations, education and government, serving as a director on the Agricultural Co-op Council of Oregon, on the board of the Oregon State University Alumni Association and as a member of the Wheat Growers League and the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. He served eight years on the Sherman County Board of Commissioners.

Survivors include his wife, Patty; two daughters, Kim (Bryan) McKinney, of Wasco, Ore., and Jennifer (Mark) Gianotti, of Silverdale, Wash.; and several grandchildren.

Services will be held Feb. 1, at 1 p.m. at Gateway Presbyterian Church, The Dalles, Ore. Memorials may be directed to Sherman County Athletic Foundation, P.O. Box 191, Moro, Oregon 97039, or Moro Community Presbyterian Church, P. O. Box 2, Moro, Oregon 97039.
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