Craig Lang, a dairy farmer from Brooklyn who was president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for 10 years, was defeated in his bid to be re-elected at the organization's 2011 state convention in Des Moines last week. Voting delegates attending the 93rd annual meeting of Iowa's largest farm organization voted in a new president, Craig Hill, who farms near Milo in south central Iowa.
Hill declared his intention to seek the top position several weeks ago. He became vice president of Iowa Farm Bureau in December 2002, in the same election that Lang became president. Hill raises hogs and grows corn and soybeans. He was first elected to the board in 1989 and was elected vice president of Iowa Farm Bureau in December 2001. As vice president, Hill also served as chairman of IFBF's state resolutions committee.
Lang has been a very visible and active leader of the state's largest farm organization, well-versed on federal as well as state policy issues pertaining to agriculture and rural communities. A well-known leader in Iowa agriculture and a passionate supporter of farmers and the state of Iowa, Lang earned the respect of others with his ability to understand complex issues and problems farmers encounter, and he worked hard to help provide answers to solve them.
Lang did an impressive job heading up Iowa's largest farm organization
In addition to heading Farm Bureau, Lang has stayed active in the dairy farming operation his family runs at Brooklyn in Poweshiek County in east central Iowa. Under Lang's tenure as head of Iowa Farm Bureau, several new programs and initiatives were started to help boost agriculture and Iowa's rural economy and strengthen the involvement of Farm Bureau members in the organization.
Lang had a lot to do with the founding of the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, which provides consulting services free of charge to help livestock and poultry farmers comply with government regulations. Lang also was instrumental in establishing the Renew Rural Iowa Program, a Farm Bureau effort to boost local economies and small businesses by providing the spark to get new businesses going and growing to create jobs in small towns and rural communities. Farm Bureau offers this program to encourage and help provide agricultural entrepreneurs and small businesses the training and skills to be successful in their business and financial management.
Lang was appointed to the Iowa Board of Regents in 2007 and was elected president of the regents in June 2011. He agreed to serve as president of the regents when Governor Terry Branstad expressed displeasure with then-regents president David Miles over a number of issues, including what Branstad called an adversarial relationship with state legislators. Branstad asked Lang to take over as head of the regents. Involved in the family dairy farm and having a very busy schedule as head of Farm Bureau, Lang agreed to serve as interim president of the Iowa Board of Regents until January of 2012, when a new president of the regents board will take over.
There were hints Lang may have lost some influence with delegates
The possible shakiness of Lang's hold on the delegates, who represent Iowa's 99 counties at the Iowa Farm Bureau's annual meeting, was first hinted at in September. During their annual policymaking session that month, the delegates initially agreed on a position endorsed by Lang in favor of tying soil conservation compliance with farm crop insurance subsidies provided by USDA. A day later the delegates reversed that decision, refusing to endorse the call for having this conservation provision included in the new 2012 federal farm bill that is being written by Congress.
In 2010, Lang urged delegates to the Iowa Farm Bureau annual policy meeting to vote for a policy recommendation calling for the end of direct payment subsidies to farmers by USDA. The Iowa policy was taken to the American Farm Bureau national meeting in January but was not adopted.
Dean Kleckner, a former president of both Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation, wasn't one of the delegates who voted on the presidency last week. But Kleckner says, "I was president of the Iowa Farm Bureau for 10 years and Craig Lang was in for 10 years, and many people think that is about long enough. Time works against you in a position like that."
Craig Hill's service extends beyond state board to his local community
Hill last week praised Lang, the man he defeated for the presidency of the Iowa Farm Bureau. "I'm proud to follow in the footsteps of a devoted farmer and Farm Bureau member, who proudly served this organization well over the last 10 years," said Hill. "Craig Lang, his wife Mary and their family are like many of the Iowa farmers you know, or should know. Hard-working, dedicated and passionate about the many things agriculture has brought, and will bring, to this state. As a farmer, I have the highest regard for them, and am glad to have served with Craig. He is an excellent advocate for agriculture."
Hill's service extends beyond the state IFBF board to his local Warren County Farm Bureau and to the broader agricultural community. Serving on an advisory board, he was instrumental in the development of Revenue Assurance, a revenue-based crop insurance program for corn and soybean farmers. He also served as the first chairman of the Iowa Ag State Group and served on the U.S. Grains Council. Hill was appointed to then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's Strategic Planning Council in 1999 to help Iowans look a decade ahead and help prepare the state for the future.
In 2003 the American Farm Bureau named Hill to a 23-member national committee, Making Agriculture Productive and Profitable or MAPP. The panel develops policy options for Farm Bureau members to consider. Hill and his wife Patti have two children. Their son, Adam, works with them on the family farm.
IFBF also has new vice-president, and re-elected three district directors
"I look forward to serving as president for an organization that stands for people, progress and pride. Although our organization has been around for 93 years, much has changed in farming, and many challenges remain. I embrace them," says Hill, who promises to continue to work hard for the good of Farm Bureau members and Iowa agriculture in general.
Last week's meeting in Des Moines was the 93rd annual convention of the Iowa Farm Bureau. Besides electing Craig Hill as the new president, the delegates also elected a new vice president and re-elected three district directors to the state Farm Bureau board of directors.
Joe Heinrich of Maquoketa, IFBF board member representing District 6, was elected as the new vice president of the organization. County delegates also re-elected three district directors to the board. They are Charles Norris of Mason City, Andy Hora of Riverside and Jim McKnight of Afton.
New Farm Bureau vice president Joe Heinrich farms in Jackson County
New Iowa Farm Bureau vice president Joe Heinrich raises beef and dairy cattle and grows corn, soybeans and hay on his Jackson County farm. Prior to election as vice president, Heinrich represented District 6 on the IFBF board of directors, which is 11 counties in eastern Iowa; he was first elected to the position in 2004. Heinrich has been active in various county and state Farm Bureau activities and held several positions on the Jackson County Farm Bureau board. Heinrich and wife Shelley have two daughters. The District 6 board of directors representative to replace Heinrich will be elected in the near future.
Re-elected as District 2 representative, Charlie Norris represents Farm Bureau leadership in 11 counties in north central Iowa. He was first elected to the position in 1996. Norris also represents Iowa Farm Bureau on the U.S. Grains Council and is the IFBF liaison to the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
Hora represents District 7, which consists of 11 counties in southeast Iowa. He was first elected to that position in 2008. McKnight, also re-elected to District 9, represents Farm Bureau leadership in 12 counties in southwest Iowa. He was first elected to that position in 2005.
The IFBF delegates at last week's convention in Des Moines also elected five members to represent Iowa at the 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) convention in Honolulu, HI. They are: David Seil of Webster County, Rick Plowman of Van Buren County, Mike Fara of Shelby County, Brandon Vorthmann of West Pottawattamie County and Vince Spain of Fayette County.Doug Boland of Williamsburg in Iowa County was elected to a 3-year term on the IFBF internal study committee. That committee serves as a liaison between the county Farm Bureau voting delegates and the state board of directors.