A history of strong leadership

James Howard
James R. Howard of Marshall County was the first president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. FILE PHOTO

As Americans went to the polls earlier this month, my mind turned to a different kind of president.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has had 11 presidents before me. Those leaders built and strengthened a movement for farmers and ranchers across the country. That’s not as big a deal as being president of the United States, of course, but I so respect and admire the role that each of my predecessors has played in ensuring a voice for the American farmer.

The first AFBF president, James R. Howard of Iowa (1920–1922), was surprised to be elected. By the end of the February 1919 meeting to make decisions about stru­cture and governan­ce of the new organization, Howard had bought his rai­lroad tic­­ket and was ready to...

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