New president of DF Seeds brings deep connection to Michigan ag
September 12, 2022
Janna Fritz will lead company in era of exciting growth
Dansville, MI – September 12, 2022 – Janna Fritz, a respected, veteran agribusiness leader with a career deeply rooted in Michigan agriculture, is the new president of DF Seeds.
Fritz is only the third president of DF Seeds since the Michigan-based seed company was established over 50 years ago. Her immediate predecessor, Chris Varner, is retiring to the family farm. John Diehl, the founder of DF Seeds, led the company until 2015 when he became research director.
Moving to DF Seeds will allow Fritz to continue the mission she’s had her whole career – to see Michigan agriculture thrive by helping producers overcome the obstacles standing in their way.
“When we thought about filling this job and who would be the ideal candidate, first and foremost the person had to have a strong connection to Michigan ag,” says Colin Steen, CEO of Legacy Agripartners. DF Seeds is a Legacy Agripartners brand.
“Janna brings a wide range of experience at a variety of levels in agriculture, especially in the seed business,” says Steen. “And she’s shown a deep commitment and connectedness to Michigan farmers throughout her whole career.”
Since graduating from Michigan State University and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Fritz has worked in a number of roles in agriculture including as a crop insurance manager, a representative with the Michigan Farm Bureau, and as a district sales manager for a multinational seed company. Most recently, Fritz was the chief executive officer of the Michigan Soybean Committee, a farmer-led organization that directs the soybean checkoff in Michigan.
“I love working with farmers to understand their needs and learn what plays into their operational choices,” says Fritz. “We farm as a family and every job I’ve had has allowed me to nurture connections with Michigan growers. Being able to talk one-on-one with a producer is something I will never give up. It’s one of the things that makes this new role with DF Seeds so exciting. DF Seeds has an unbreakable connection to the Michigan grower.”
DF Seeds has been through an era of strong growth since Chris Varner joined the company as operations manager 12 years ago. She became president in 2015. Varner is retiring after 35 years in the seed business but she is committed to help Fritz and the rest of the DF Seeds team through the period of transition. Steen says DF Seeds continues to see strong growth in the feed and food-grade non-GMO seed market. DF Seeds has some of the best genetics for Michigan farmers, all tested and grown in the state. He says the company will have a bigger presence in Michigan dairies with Michigan-proven corn, feed, and forage solutions. “Janna is a great fit to lead DF Seeds and is the ideal leader to help the team capitalize on all of these opportunities,” says Steen. “She has a mentality of servant leadership. She listens well and knows how to get the best out of people. We’re thrilled to have her on board.”