Brent Johnson of Calhoun County Re-Elected IFBF President

Members of Iowa’s largest general farm organization gathered at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines this week to celebrate the achievements of 100 county Farm Bureaus, young farmer award winners and receive expert insight on key topics and issues shaping agriculture today.  Iowa Farm Bureau voting delegates re-elected Brent Johnson of Calhoun County to a two-year term as president.

Johnson, first elected IFBF president in 2021, farms in Manson with his wife, LuAnn; son, Matt; and daughter-in-law, Rebekah.  Johnson grows corn and soybeans on their family farm, and he and LuAnn also have a daughter, Kaeli, and four grandchildren.   As IFBF president, Brent serves as chairman of the board of FBL Financial Group, Inc., and Farm Bureau Life Companies, and is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) board of directors.   

Farm Bureau members engaged in several educational breakout sessions during the two-day meeting, receiving valuable insight into economic factors shaping agricultural markets and updates on national policy. In a time of uncertainty with myriad factors impacting markets, informed decision making is crucial to sustainability in agriculture.  Members received updates on the status of the extended farm bill and the next steps for a new five-year farm bill.  

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds addressed members virtually during the closing session and shared her strong support of Iowa farm families and agriculture, proclaiming Dec. 4-8, ‘Iowa Farm Bureau Week.’  Governor Reynolds recognized Iowa Farm Bureau as a valuable partner in moving Iowa forward. The Governor highlighted recent achievements, including taxpayer relief and protections and biofuels advancements, both championed by IFBF.  

IFBF Elections 

Andy Hill of Manly was re-elected to the IFBF board to represent District 2.  The district is made up of 11 counties in north central Iowa.  Hill was first elected District 2 director in 2017 and raises corn and soybeans on his family farm.  Hill and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters.

Rick Plowman of Douds was re-elected as District 7 director.  The district is made up of 11 counties in southeast Iowa. Plowman and his wife, Lisa, raise corn and cattle and have two children, and their son, Cale, is active in the family farm.  

Will Frazee of Emerson was re-elected as District 9 director.  The district is made up of 12 counties in southwest Iowa.   Frazee feeds cattle and grows corn and beans with his wife, Deb, and son, Curt, on their family farm.  

Nine delegates were elected to represent Iowa at the 2024 AFBF Annual Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 19-24.  They include: IFBF President Brent Johnson of Calhoun County; IFBF Vice President Brian Feldpausch of Grundy County; District 1 director Randy Brincks of Winneshiek County; Jeff Pape of Dubuque County; Meghan Leibold of Buchanan County; Dave Bolin of Butler County; Gary Rees of Louisa County; Dan Hanrahan of Madison County and Kevin Schechinger of East Pottawattamie County. 

Michael Johnson of Page 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 Ag Award 

Craig McEnany and Dale Uehling were recognized as Iowa Farm Bureau’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture (DSA) Award recipients. IFBF’s prestigious DSA Award has been presented to leaders in Iowa agriculture since 1978, recognizing leaders for a lifetime of dedication and positive impacts made in Iowa agriculture.  

McEnany was nominated by the Story County Farm Bureau for his contributions to Iowa agriculture and his impact on students and young adults during his teaching career spanning more than four decades.  For the past 30 years, McEnany led the Agribusiness program at DMACC, where enrollment grew from 30 students per year when he started to 215 students at the time of his recent retirement.  

McEnany was instrumental in developing a partnership with the Dallas County Board of Supervisors to establish the 325-acre farm for DMACC.  The county farm provides hands-on opportunities for agribusiness and veterinary medicine students, and its water quality wetland is part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy network to measure and quantify water quality progress.  

In addition to shaping thousands of students over his career through in-classroom and on-farm instruction, McEnany played a key role planning and fundraising for the Iowa FFA Enrichment Center, which provides students countless opportunities for ag education and preparation for careers in agriculture. 

Dale Uehling was nominated by the Wapello County Farm Bureau for his decades of service with ISU Extension and local community leadership. Uehling served 35 years with ISU Extension, retiring after 27 years as Wapello County Extension director, and developed a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable resource for local farmers.  

Conservation has always been important to Uehling, and he led the creation of the Wapello County Conservation Board and Wapello County Rural Water Association.  Uehling was also an early adopter of no till, regularly sharing his experiences and insight with other farmers and hosting field days to show the benefits in soil health and water quality.  

Uehling has focused his efforts on community gain and improving quality of life. Following his career with Extension, Uehling served 16 years as mayor of Ottumwa to continue his service to community and helped foster several economic development projects benefiting the county and its residents.  

Discussion Meet

Sarah Tweeten of Cerro Gordo County was selected as the winner of IFBF’s Young Farmer Discussion Meet and will represent Iowa in the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Discussion Meet during the AFBF Annual Convention in January.  Tweeten also received a $1,500 cash prize from GROWMARK and an expense paid trip to the 2024 IFBF Young Farmer Conference. 

The second-place finisher was Larissa Schippers of Mahaska County.  Schippers received a $500 CAT dealer gift card, a $500 gift card from GROWMARK to be used at FAST STOP or their local FS Cooperative and a $500 gift card from Grainger.   Third place finisher, Molly Dolch, of Adair County, received a $500 CAT dealer gift card, a YETI cooler, courtesy of Farm Bureau Financial Services, and an Adventureland package with six passes and a cabana rental.  Coltin Schachtner of Pocahontas County finished fourth and received a $250 gift card from GROWMARK to be used at FAST STOP or their local FS Cooperative, an Adventureland package with six passes and a cabana rental, and $100 from the IFBF Young Farmer Program.

The Young Farmer Discussion Meet is a unique competition in which participants are scored based on their ability to engage in a “cooperative” discussion on challenges affecting agriculture, similar to a county Farm Bureau board meeting discussion. Throughout their 30-minute discussion, the young farmers are awarded points based on their ability to identify the problem, seek solutions and listen to each other’s viewpoints—skills that are pertinent to gaining consumer trust in today’s world.  This year’s questions involved issues like growing Farm Bureau membership to reflect the diversity of Iowa agriculture and effective engagement with elected officials and lawmakers.