WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Members of Iowa’s largest general farm organization gathered at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines to celebrate the achievements of county Farm Bureaus and young farmer leaders from across the state, and for the first time in a decade, delegates elected a new president following the retirement of Craig Hill.
Brent Johnson of Calhoun County was elected the 14th president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, succeeding Craig Hill of Ackworth, following his retirement after 40 years of Farm Bureau leadership, serving as IFBF president for the past 10 years.
Johnson farms in Manson with his wife, LuAnn, son Matt and daughter-in-law Rebekah. He and LuAnn also have a daughter, Kaeli and two grandchildren. Johnson previously served as IFBF District 4 director, first elected in 2016. Johnson grows corn and soybeans, raises beef cattle and founded an independent precision ag company specializing in GPS soil sampling, precision ag equipment, data management and the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for data analysis. Johnson earned an agronomy degree from Iowa State University (ISU). In addition to his service on the IFBF board, he’s held various positions on the Calhoun County Farm Bureau board, chaired the IFBF Young Farmer Committee and is a Calhoun County soil commissioner.
“Being selected by our members to serve as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau is a tremendous honor, and I look forward to working with our statewide membership to continue the advancement of Iowa agriculture,” Johnson said. “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.”
Farm Bureau members participated in several educational breakout sessions during the two-day meeting, receiving valuable insight into effectively operating a family farm business and strengthening farming communities. Members also received valuable insight on federal policy discussions and developments that will shape agriculture in the months and years ahead. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds addressed members during the closing session and reaffirmed her strong support of Iowa farm families as a longtime champion of agriculture. Governor Reynolds recognized Farm Bureau’s role as a partner in conservation and water quality efforts in the state and its role ensuring historic tax reform during the previous Iowa legislative session.
The meeting concluded with a motivational keynote from former U.S. Army Ranger, Keni Thomas, the inspiration behind the popular film, “Black Hawk Down.” Thomas’ leadership message about stepping up in the face of adversity and working to support and build up those around you was met with thunderous applause from the 800 in attendance.
Randy Brincks of Winneshiek County was re-elected IFBF District 1 director, comprised of 11 counties in northeast Iowa. Brincks was first elected director in 2018 and farms with his wife, Mary, on their family farm near Ossian. They grow corn, soybeans, and alfalfa and also finish beef cattle and raise farrow-to-finish feeder pigs.
Matt Schuiteman of Sioux County was also re-elected as IFBF District director representing District 3 comprised of 12 counties in northwest Iowa. Schuiteman was first elected to the board in 2018. The Schuitemans grow corn and alfalfa and were early adopters of cover crops, using them on the farm since 2005. The Schuitemans also farrow and finish sows, custom feed Isowean pigs, and have a cow-calf herd of registered Shorthorn and Shorthorn plus cattle.
Brian Feldpausch of Grundy County was elected to the IFBF board to represent District 5 following the retirement of Mark Buskohl. The district is made up of 11 counties in central Iowa. Feldpausch and his wife, Jen, have three children, Abby, Nick and Will, and grow corn and soybeans, maintain a cow/calf herd and custom feed hogs. Feldpausch currently serves on the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) budget and taxation advisory committee and previously served on the IFBF internal study committee. Feldpausch held various positions with the Grundy County Farm Bureau and serves on the BCLUW community school board.
Nine delegates were elected to represent Iowa at the 2022 AFBF Annual Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, January 7-12. They include: IFBF President Brent Johnson of Calhoun County; IFBF Vice President Joe Heinrich of Jackson County; District 2 director Andy Hill of Worth County; Ben Albright of Calhoun County; Brian Borcherding of Franklin County; Jody Martens of Jackson County; Mark Ogden of Johnson County; Michael Johnson of Page County; and a district director to be determined, replacing Brent Johnson.
Jeff Pape of Dubuque County was elected to a three-year term on the IFBF internal study committee. The internal study committee serves as a liaison between the county Farm Bureau voting delegates and the state board of directors.
Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award
The Distinguished Service to Agriculture (DSA) Award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the agricultural industry at the local, state and/or national level, and IFBF bestowed the honor on two individuals during its Annual Meeting.
Dr. Paul Armbrecht was nominated by the Calhoun County Farm Bureau board for his dedication to his community and animal health as a veterinarian in Lake City since 1971. Armbrecht grew up on a farm near Colo, and attended ISU’s veterinary school. After graduation, he was drafted into the military and upon completion of his service returned to Lake City to assist a local veterinarian before opening his own practice. Many of his clients are multi-generational, stemming from their great-grandpa’s original small herds. He is well-known for his expertise on swine health and has participated in swine disease eradication initiatives.
“I care about the community. I continue to see the importance of both connecting with the community but also being an ear to concerns and issues and having a chance to being able to make change,” says Dr. Armbrecht. “But some things that don’t change is the absolute necessity for people to have the care and knowledge of the animals they have.”
Ron Leistikow of Readlyn was nominated by the Bremer County Farm Bureau for his continued involvement and volunteerism within his community and agriculture. After graduation in 1958 from Readlyn High School, he farmed with his dad until he married his wife, Judy, and they began their own farm. Both he and Judy became involved with Farm Bureau, including the young farmer program. The Leistikows are a multi-generation farm family, and their six kids are still involved in agriculture today, including a son and grandson who farm with them on their grain, dairy and beef farm. In addition to Farm Bureau, Leistikow is a member of the Bremer County fair board, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the local historical society.
“The more you put into something, the more you get out of it,” says Leistikow. “But we can’t do it as one person. We have to be a unified group, and we hope Farm Bureau keeps up their outstanding support of agriculture.”
Young Farmer Achievement Award
Three young Iowa farmers received the IFBF Young Farmer Leadership Award for their inspiring work in agriculture and within their communities. Cordt Holub of Tama County, Megan Kregel of Clayton County, and Michael McEnany of Story County. The Young Farmer Leadership Award celebrates young farmers under 35 who are actively contributing to their communities, county and state and growing as leaders. The award is presented in honor of past IFBF President Bob Joslin who was well known for his support and encouragement for young farmers.
Despite having very different backgrounds and farm operations representing various aspects of Iowa agriculture, the 2021 Young Farmer Leadership Award winners share a passion for Iowa agriculture and have found working through Farm Bureau is a great way to achieve their goals. The young farmers were recognized as innovative leaders with a passion for telling the story of Iowa agriculture and building relationships between farmers and consumers. To learn more about these young farmers and their efforts advancing Iowa agriculture, check out IFBF’s special three-part podcast series where the award winners share their story and vision for the future of Iowa agriculture.
— Iowa Farm Bureau Federation