CHICAGO — In recognition of his lifetime of exemplary leadership and service in the agriculture industry, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) honored Ed Mullins, former CEO of Prairie Farms Dairy, with the 2023 Charles B. Shuman Distinguished Service Award during the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago, Dec. 2-4. The award is the highest given by IFB.
Mullins began his career in the food industry in 1968 with Schulze & Burch Biscuit Company. During his 10 years with the company, Mullins was drafted into the U.S. Army and served 15 months in Southeast Asia and served as a military police officer.
After returning from the army, Mullins worked as general manager of PepsiCo in Marion for two years before joining Prairie Farms Dairy in 1980. There, he began a 42-year career, working up through the ranks and serving in many leadership positions before taking on the role of CEO in 2006. He was the company’s 4th CEO since its inception in 1938.
During his time leading the company, Mullins was instrumental in guiding Prairie Farms through many mergers and acquisitions that greatly expanded its footprint into new markets and product categories. Mullins attributes the company’s success to staying true to its founding leaders’ vision to simply “do right.” He retired in December 2022.
Outside of his career with Prairie Farms, Mullins held several leadership roles in agriculture on the national, state and local level. He served on the Advisory Committee of the Dairy Management t Inc. (DMI) Board; board director on the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board; secretary of MilkPep; and chairman of the Milk Industry Foundation.
Mullins contributed significantly to his community through various leadership roles, including serving as president of the Allied Food Club, president of the St. Louis Association of Manufacturers’ Representatives, and board member of the Granite City Chamber of Commerce.
Ed said his decision to ultimately retire from Prairie Farms Dairy was a bittersweet one, but he and his wife, Carla, are planning to settle into retirement and enjoy the next stage of their life. Together, they have two children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual who has given a lifetime of leadership and service to agriculture, or to a major segment of the state and/or nation. The award honors the memory and service of Charles B. Shuman, a revered Moultrie County farm leader who served as president of both IFB and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
About Illinois Farm Bureau
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 364,452 and a farmer membership of 75,959. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
Learn more about Illinois agriculture at www.ilfb.org.
— Illinois Farm Bureau