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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

Former Farm Bureau leader honored by state's co-ops

Sunday, October 23, 2011

(Photo)
Charles Kruse, retired president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, was honored with the Mr. Co-op Award by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. He is joined here by Barry Hart, left, CEO of the association, and electric cooperative members who are also Farm Bureau members. Submitted photo
JEFFERSON CITY - The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives honored Charles Kruse, retired president of the Missouri Farm Bureau and a farmer from Dexter, with its "Mr. Co-op" Award during the association's annual meeting Oct. 7.

"For the past several years, AMEC has presented a very special award to a select few individuals whose actions have earned them the eternal gratitude of those involved in rural electrification in this state," said Barry Hart, CEO of the association. "This year, we present the award to a man who has always stood up for the electric cooperatives and the members they serve through a lengthy career that always focused on agriculture and rural people."

Kruse was first elected president of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation and the Federation's five affiliated companies in 1992. During his 18 years of service as president, Missouri Farm Bureau grew from 77,000 to over 111,000 member families. As its membership grew, so too did its clout in the state Capitol. It was here that Missouri's electric cooperatives often called on Kruse for support, especially on issues where rural people found themselves struggling against urban interests on an unlevel playing field.

Several Missouri Farm Bureau policies supporting the electric cooperatives were passed during his tenure. When retail wheeling was being debated, Farm Bureau supported the electric cooperative position that this would be a big mistake for Missouri because it would shift costs from large industrials to families. Likewise, Farm Bureau under Kruse supported efforts to bring wind power to Northwest Missouri and legislation toughening Missouri law on copper theft.

He always believed electric cooperatives should own their own power supply instead of being dependent on others. He showed his leadership and support as an electric cooperative member by coming to Jefferson City to lobby on behalf of the Early Site Permit legislation that would keep the nuclear power option open for Missouri.

In the wake of the 2009 ice storm, the most devastating natural disaster to affect Missouri, Kruse was the first to publicly praise the efforts of electric cooperative employees and boards who worked to restore power, using his monthly column in the Farm Bureau magazine.

He even challenged the National Farm Bureau leadership when a proposed merger of satellite TV companies threatened to create a monopoly that was not in the interest of rural people. He brought the support of Missouri's Farm Bureau in a successful fight of this merger.

A native of Stoddard County, he is a 1967 graduate of Arkansas State University where he majored in agronomy. He earned his masters of science in agronomy in 1973 from the University of Missouri.

The Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives is the Jefferson City-based statewide service organization for Missouri's electric cooperatives.