Farmers Will Face Even More Challenges in 2009

At 90th annual meeting, Iowa Farm Bureau members told to prepare for financial roller coaster ride for next five years.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation held its 90th annual meeting last week as Farm Bureau members from across Iowa gathered in Des Moines to discuss a variety of energy, economic and environmental issues. They were told to prepare for a volatile financial situation in agriculture over the next five years.

"This has been a tough year in farm country for many of our members," said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang. "Our farmers are committed to learning how to manage these risks so they can succeed on the farm. That's what it's all about. Farming is more than choosing a rural lifestyle of wide open spaces and green pastures; it's honoring a commitment to feed and fuel the world."

At this year's meeting, farmers learned that market, fuel and fertilizer price volatility, which held down profits for many farmers this year, will not recede. Instead, the 'roller coaster ride' will become a natural part of a market cycle for at least the next five years. That's why it was standing room only for the panel discussion, "Managing a New Level of Farming Risk." Farmers asked dozens of questions during the discussion on the effect of energy in agriculture markets.

Develop a strategy, and don't give up

Lang, a fifth generation dairy farmer from Brooklyn in eastern Iowa, encourages farmers to develop a financial strategy and don't give up. "It's so important that we stick together as farmers, both large and small by size of operation, young and old, grain and livestock. The times that are coming require unity. Unity is strength. That's what a grassroots organization like Farm Bureau is all about. "

Craig Hill of Milo was re-elected vice president of the Iowa Farm Bureau at the annual meeting in Des Moines. Delegates also re-elected two district directors to the board. They include Charlie Norris of Mason City and Jim McKnight of Afton. The delegates also elected Andrew Hora of Riverside to the board of directors, replacing Dan Johnson who retired.

Hill re-elected Farm Bureau vice president

Hill was elected vice president of the Iowa Farm Bureau in December 2001. He also serves as chairman of the state resolutions committee. Before serving as District 8 director, Hill was active in the Warren County Farm Bureau. In 2003, the American Farm Bureau Federation named Hill to a 23-member national committee, Making Agriculture Productive and Profitable. The committee developed long-term policy options for Farm Bureau to consider.

Also, Hill serves on the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean of Agriculture Advisory Committee and ISU Plant Sciences Institute Advisory Committee. He and wife Patti have two children. Their son, Adam, is involved in the family grain and livestock operation and daughter Abbie is a student at ISU.
Norris represents District 2, which consists of 11 counties in north-central Iowa. He was elected to the position in 1996 and represents Iowa Farm Bureau on the U.S. Grains Council and is IFBF liaison to the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Hora represents District 7, which consists of 11 counties in southeast Iowa. He and his wife Mary farm near Riverside and raise corn, soybeans and hogs. They have one daughter, Jessica.

McKnight represents District 9, which consists of 12 counties in southwest Iowa. He was elected to the position in 2005. He serves on the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Production Animal Medicine Advisory Committee.

The IFBF delegates also elected five members to represent Iowa at the 2009 American Farm Bureau Federation convention in San Antonio, Texas. They are: Greg Rinehart, Boone; Leon Meiburg of Rock Rapids; Randy Hiemstra of Kingsley; Tony Allen of Diagonal and Tim Kaldenberg of Albia. IFBF President Craig Lang of Brooklyn, Vice President Hill and District 4 Director Doug Gronau of Vail will also serve as delegates. In addition, Morey Hill of Madrid will serve as IFBF Internal Study Committee delegate to the 2009 AFBF convention.

Mary Heintz of Marengo (Iowa County) was elected to a three-year term on the IFBF internal study committee. The internal study committee serves as a liaison between county Farm Bureau voting delegates and the state board of directors.

Young farmers honored for management

Lee County farmers Jeff and Paula Ellis were presented Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's 2008 Young Farmer Achievement Award on Dec. 4 at the organization's annual meeting in Des Moines.

The annual contest honors young farmers who show outstanding management ability in their farming operations and involvement in Farm Bureau and community activities. Receiving second place in the contest were Thomas and Jessica Forbes of Ida County. Third place recipients were Sam and Jill McKnight of Union County.

Educator, lawmaker are award winners

An educator and a state lawmaker have been named "Distinguished Service to Agriculture" winners for 2008.

Educator Joe Harper has reached out to students and adults with agriculture education, not just in his hometown of Colo, Iowa, but around world. Thurman Gaskill, a farmer and state lawmaker, has been an outspoken advocate for agriculture in the Iowa Statehouse and in other leadership capacities on local, state, national and global stages.

Their words and actions have helped further the cause of Iowa agriculture and rural communities over the past several decades, earning Harper and Gaskill the 2008 Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. The award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the ag industry at the local, state and/or national level.

* Joe Harper: Among his many accomplishments, Harper is well-known for his commitment to advancing agriculture education. Harper's work as an educator began after he graduated from Iowa State University in 1951. He spent the first 21 years of his career as a high school vocational agriculture instructor. He opened up new opportunities for students, particularly in livestock exhibiting. His efforts invigorated livestock exhibiting near his hometown of Colo and earned him widespread recognition from both the agriculture and education communities.

In 1985, Harper joined Des Moines Area Community College as the director of the Farm Career Assessment Program. The program was designed to help farmers, ag-related workers and their spouses explore their career options in a troubled economy. The program was highly successful – nearly 60% of the participants who attempted to find a job secured one – and the Career Assessment Program was implemented in three other locations in Iowa.

Harper also served as chair of Agribusiness Programs at DMACC. As chairman, Harper had the opportunity to teach agriculture, particularly farming in Iowa, during two stints in Russia. For his efforts, he received outstanding agriculture educator, distinguished service and community service awards from DMACC.

Harper is also known for his contributions to the swine industry. He was Purebred Duroc breeder and auctioneer for over 30 years and helped New Mexico State University start its own auction school.
Today, Harper is retired but continues to actively volunteer in his community. He and his wife, Phyllis, reside in Colo. They have three grown children.

* Thurman Gaskill: Gaskill's contributions to agriculture via several prominent leadership positions have touched farmers around the globe. Gaskill recently retired in 2008 from the Iowa Senate, after serving 10 years. During his time in the Senate, he was recognized for his work to support agribusiness, earning the 2003 Agribusiness Legislator of the Year designation from the Agribusiness Association of Iowa.

Gaskill has been the president of the National Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Farm Business Association. He is the former chairman of the U.S. Feed Grains Council, vice president of the Iowa Agricultural Promotion Board, vice chair of the Agriculture Council of America, commissioner of the Iowa Department of National Resources, commissioner of the Iowa Development Commission and charter member of the Iowa Peace Institute Board of Directors. Gaskill has served as an ag adviser for several presidential campaigns, working for responsible ag policy. Today, Gaskill is a director of MetaBank and farms near Corwith in northern Iowa with his wife, Geraldine. He has three grown children.

Fourth generation farmer wins Joslin Award

David Rydberg of Essex received the 2008 Bob Joslin Excellence in Ag Award at the Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting. The award honors a young farmer who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities in Farm Bureau, agriculture and his/her community. Rydberg and wife Amy raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and finish hogs and Angus cattle in Page County. The couple farms with Dave's dad.

After graduating from ISU, Rydberg joined Farm Bureau and became the fourth generation on his family farm. Since then, he has participated in numerous leadership roles within the organization, starting with the Ag Leaders Institute in 2001. Rydberg has served as president, vice president, secretary, county action committee chair, membership campaign manager, environmental resource coordinator and Young Farmer Committee chair for Page County. He also has served on the county legislative committee, state resolutions committee for District 9, Speaker Corps and Farm Bureau Response. He is currently the voting delegate for his county and has served as the alternate for American Farm Bureau's beef cattle advisory committee for the past three years.

Outside of Farm Bureau, Rydberg is active in his church and holds leadership positions in civic and ag organizations, including the Essex Community Club. He and Amy have two daughters. The Excellence in Ag Award is given in memory of Bob Joslin, who served as IFBF president from January 1986 to December 1987 and was known for his support and encouragement of young farmers.

'Woman in Agriculture' Award Winner

Palo Alto County farmer Ann Stillman has won the Iowa Farm Bureau Woman in Agriculture Award. The yearly contest honors one woman who demonstrates outstanding leadership abilities in agriculture and stands out from her peers in the promotion and education of agriculture. The announcement was made at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Des Moines on Dec. 4.

Ann and her husband, Philip, raise corn and soybeans on their farm near Emmetsburg. They have four children. Ann believes that lifelong education and agriculture promotion are critical to the preservation of family farms. Her Extensive work with the Farm Bureau and 4-H has served that cause.

Stillman has volunteered for Farm Bureau in various capacities on the county, state, and national levels. She has served as county president and vice president, state resolutions committee member and a delegate to the American Farm Bureau annual convention. As a 4-H leader, she has served as 4-H Foundation president and as an officer for the Extension council and county fair board. Her work with both organizations has earned her several awards, including the Farm Bureau Membership Builder Award and the 4-H Leadership, Clover and Alumni Award.

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