The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor AFIA bestows upon members. Since 1981, only 28 individuals have received this elite award for outstanding, long-term support to AFIA and the entire feed industry. Befitting its highly selective nature, the Distinguished Service Award is not necessarily presented annually.
Larson enjoyed a four-decade career with Cargill, Inc., until retiring in 2010. He first started with the company in 1966, serving in several managerial positions before being elected a division vice-president in 1981. He then became president of Cargill's feed division in 1983 and in 1995, was named president of the Animal Nutrition and Poultry Group.
In 1999, Larson was elected executive vice-president and named to Cargill’s Corporate Leadership Team, the core executive group in charge of Cargill’s overall strategy, growth and funding. He was elected to the company’s board of directors in 2006.
Larson received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Minnesota, where he is still active. He was elected to the university's board of regents in 2005 and is serving his second six-year term. He also serves on the board of the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Historical Society’s Executive Council. An advocate of helping young people get a college education, he founded and serves as president of The David and Janis Larson Foundation.
Larson served as chairman of the AFIA board of directors from 1990-91 and led the successful merger of AFIA and the National Feed Ingredients Association in 1992, receiving the AFIA Member of the Year Award that same year.