Denny Presnall, who has served as Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) executive director and secretary/treasurer since 2007, last week announced his plans to retire after the beginning of 2018.

The IFBF board accepted Presnall’s re­­tirement at its meeting on Sept. 8 and has approved the process of finding a new executive director, the executive position that leads the IFBF organization and staff.

“It has truly been an honor to serve this organization for 35 years,” Presnall said in an interview with the Spokesman. “IFBF is a special organization. It represents integrity, grassroots and innovation and has truly been instrumental in improving agriculture, our rural communities and our entire state.”

The IFBF organization today is as strong as it’s ever been, and it continues to improve, Presnall said. “Our volunteers are active in the organization, and our county Farm Bureaus are doing a great job of identifying and grooming leaders,” he said.

Value of teamwork

“Building a strong foundation starts with having the right people in the right positions,” Presnall said. “I’ve always felt that if you surround yourself with good people, you can accomplish any goal that you want to attain,” he said. “I learned the value of teamwork a long time ago working in my parents’ grocery store, and it’s something that has always stuck with me.”

The motivated volunteers working in the countryside and an outstanding staff create a powerful combination, Presnall said. “That’s really been the key to our success,” he said.

Broadening focus

Presnall said he’s also proud of helping IFBF broaden its focus to include programming that boosts economic activities in Iowa’s rural communities, helps members manage farm transition, helps members tell their own stories and helps consumers understand about the value of agriculture.

Those programs, including Renew Rural Iowa, Take Root, Farm Strong, America Needs Farmers, and partnerships like the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) and the boys and girls high school athletic associations, have made a difference in rural communities and how IFBF and farmers are perceived, he said.

The IFBF, Presnall said, emerged strong from financial challenges most organizations faced during the 2008-09 recession. “We had to make some very difficult decisions. But because of those decisions, we are better positioned as an organization than we have ever been,” he said.

Before becoming executive director, Presnall served in a number of positions, including chief organization officer, field service director, director of government relations, lobbyist, regional manager and field manager. A native of Colo in Story County, Presnall began his career at Farm Bureau in 1982 as field manager in Polk County.

Presnall said he plans to spend more time with his family — his wife, Bev, three children and three grandchildren — and to pursue other interests. One of those interests is running for mayor of his hometown, Ankeny.

“It’s a great community now,” he said. “But I think there’s more we do to strengthen it, and I’m excited about the challenge and opportunity to continue making a strong contribution.”