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The Iowa Farm Bureau this week elected a Calhoun County farmer to succeed Craig Hill, who retired after 10 years leading the powerful farm group.
Farm Bureau members met Wednesday in Des Moines and elected Brent Johnson, of Manson, to be the 14th president, the organization announced Thursday.
Johnson, who previously served as the Farm Bureau’s District 4 director, grows corn and soybeans, raises beef cattle and runs a precision agriculture company that specializes in GPS soil sampling, precision ag equipment, data management and the use of drones for data analysis.
“Leading the state’s preeminent grassroots farm organization during such a critical time in agriculture is no small task, but with a long history of achievement and an engaged and unified membership, the Iowa Farm Bureau is positioned for continued success,” Johnson said in a prepared statement.
Johnson takes over for Hill, of Ackworth, who served in Farm Bureau leadership for 40 years culminating with 10 years as board president.
The Iowa Farm Bureau started in 1918, one year before the American Farm Bureau was born. The not-for-profit is one of the largest agriculture groups in the nation, with $1.65 billion in net assets in 2019, according to its 2019 Form 990 tax forms.
Hill was a vocal advocate for farmers and, under his guidance, the Farm Bureau influenced legislation on the state and national level.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a New Hartford farmer, tweeted Wednesday:
“As an Iowa Farm Bureau member since 1956 there are critical policies facing agriculture incl fairness in the cattle market + promoting biofuels + passing family farms to nxt gen + input prices + so much more Thx to Craig Hill for his work & congrats to Brent Johnson the new pres.”
Hill and the Farm Bureau sometimes sparred with environmental groups pushing for more conservation and progress on reducing nitrate and phosphorus runoff from farm fields into waterways.
In September, the group produced a podcast criticizing nitrogen fertilizer recommendations developed by Iowa State University.
The Farm Bureau and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association were the only two groups in 2019 to support a controversial bill in the Iowa Legislature that would have made it harder for private landowners to sell their land to conservation groups wanting to open the land for public use.
Caitlyn Lamm, a Farm Bureau spokeswoman, tweeted Wednesday a quote from Hill: Sustainable family farms and ag won’t be achieved “by environmental activists but active environmentalists.”
In actions at the two-day meeting, Farm Bureau members elected other officers, participated in educational sessions, had policy discussions and heard an address from Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Three Iowa farmers — Cordt Holub, of Tama County; Megan Kregel, of Clayton County, and Michael McEnany, of Story County — received the Young Farmer Achievement Award, which celebrates farmers under 35 “contributing to their communities, county and state and growing as leaders,” the Farm Bureau reported.
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