WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - March 3, 2011 - The average YouTube viewer watched 93 videos last year and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) wants to make sure stories that showcase  the "People, Progress and Pride" of Iowa are among them!  That's why the state's largest grassroots farm organization has selected YouTube as the platform for a unique contest designed to highlight the best of Iowa; the grand prize is a new iPad and lifetime Farm Bureau membership.

The "Ultimate Farm Bureau Member Contest" is simple; make a 60-second-or-less video about why you are the 'Ultimate Farm Bureau Member' and post that video to YouTube.  There are many possibilities; you can showcase your work with local schools on behalf of your county Farm Bureau, or Food Bank volunteer projects, youth leadership or rural vitality or civic leadership duties.  IFBF members are actively involved with their local communities and the videos are a way to showcase their involvement.  With the prevalence of creative videos on the net, IFBF leaders believe Iowans will find a lot of options!

"The video doesn't have to be professional quality; it can even be something that a member records on a cell phone or camera," said Dana Ardary, IFBF Marketing Manager. "What we are really looking for, are members who are passionate about belonging to Farm Bureau and want to tell others about it. It's really something you can have fun with."

To enter, members can click the Ultimate Farm Bureau Member tab on the Iowa Farm Bureau Facebook page or visit our website at: www.iowafarmbureau.com to view details, contest rules and enter to win.  Final videos need to be submitted to YouTube and then a link sent to IFBF communications staffer Bo Geigley at: bgeigley@ifbf.org by March 18.

A panel of judges will select the top five videos that best exemplify a passion for Farm Bureau's "People, Progress, Pride" brand and will be featured on the IFBF website (www.iowafarmbureau.com).  The public will cast the final vote on the " Ultimate Farm Bureau Member" winning video.  The winner will be announced April 15.  The contest deadline is nearing, so get your cameras rolling!


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Jan. 28, 2011 - Iowa Farm Bureau members support many aspects of Governor Branstad's $6.1 billion budget, starting with the $160 million in direct property tax relief to Iowans, an issue that Farm Bureau members have sought from previous administrations and legislatures.

"The Governor, just like farmers, has made several tough decisions in order to correct our budget shortfalls.  We all need to live within our means and our government is no exception," said Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Lang.  "Our members across the state agree that small businesses are a key to Iowa's vital economic growth.   Supporting them will help make us more attractive for new employers and their jobs."

Branstad, who was designated as a Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture in the fall campaign, also noted that strong growth in agriculture provides Iowa with a unique opportunity to fix its budget.  Property tax reform has long been the cornerstone of budget reform heralded by IFBF, because in the past decade, Iowa property taxes have soared by $1.59 billion, or 60 percent.

Branstad said that while tax policy reforms can help Iowa compete for new jobs, a bureaucracy that  "fails to understand the critical relationship between burdensome regulation and job creation" can undo Iowa's economic progress.  IFBF agrees and has long called for measures to strengthen the legislative oversight of Iowa's rule-making process.  "Placing unnecessary regulatory and financial hurdles in front of responsible Iowa farmers impacts the success and diversity of Iowa's important ag sector," said Lang.

Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization has long supported the state's academic and athletic programs.  "Education has always been a top priority for Farm Bureau.  The funding of education is shared between the State of Iowa and property taxpayers, and we stress the importance of the state funding their commitment to education," said Lang.  Branstad's 2012 budget calls for fully funding the school budget, which last year was underfunded by $156 million, leaving local school districts to levy additional property taxes to fill the void.

IFBF members look forward to working with lawmakers and the Governor during this legislative session to give Iowans what they want: a fiscally-responsible budget and a real chance for Iowa's statewide economic growth.


I've been mulling over something a very smart co-worker said to me this week: time is relative.  It moves faster or slower depending on your age, your work load and enjoyment of whatever you're doing at the moment.

If you are my approximate age and grew up on a farm, you probably remember how long summers used to last when you spent day after sweaty day walking beans or de-tasseling corn.  The start of school (and an end to the 12-hour chore days) seemed to take forever.

For proof of the "relativity of time" theory, look no further than your children.  Every mother thinks time stands still when faced with a colicky infant, sleep deprivation and potty training.   But what about when they're teenagers?  Every time I look at my daughter (now 13 and taller than me), I'm convinced she should still be five, holding my hand to cross a parking lot and totally in love with her parents (sigh).

According to psychologist Philip Zimbardo, it's not just 13-year-olds who need to sloooooow down; it's us (http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/time-is-relative/?emc=eta1). We probably don't need some psychologist brainiac to tell us all that we eat too fast, work too long, worry too much.  We spend too little time sitting down to dinner together.  We sacrifice our friends, our family and our sleep in order to "get ahead" in our jobs.  According to the latest statistics, only 20 percent of households sit down and have dinner together.

One thing is for certain: as fast as time goes by at our age (mine anyway), there IS no going back.  So, as we look ahead to 2011, how about making a couple resolutions to help us all make time a little more meaningfully.  Here's my short list of 2011 Resolutions:

1)      I resolve to do everything slower: walking, talking, breathing, praying; you know, the Big Stuff.

2)      I resolve to tell my family members every day that I love them.  Let me just say that anyone with a surly teenager at home knows this can sometimes be harder than it sounds (sigh).

3)      I resolve to let my dog take his time to check out evvvverrrything on our morning walks.  At least once a week, anyway (sorry, Spot).

4)      I resolve to chew my food.  Slowly.  No more burgers wolfed down at my desk while I "work through lunch".  Sure, it's not practical every day, but a recent dinner with friends at a new French restaurant in Des Moines (http://tinyurl.com/2wuojrj) convinced me that there is beauty in planning and enjoying a slowly and carefully-prepared meal.  I need to take time to actually taste and enjoy my food!

5)      And finally, I resolve to share even more stories of Iowans who DO take their time doing what's right in the name of putting food on ALL our tables: farmers.  Farmers, more than anyone else, understand the theory of "relative time."  Their technology has evolved faster than our nation's space program, yet the raw materials at their disposal remain unchanged: soil, water, work ethic.  Technology can shorten a growing season, increase yields or improve the nutrition of a chicken egg, but it can't change values.  Values of good farmers don't change.  Let's hope we all resolve to remember that in 2011.  Happy New Year!


Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.                        12/31/2010

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - October 4, 2010 - Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's (IFBF) grassroots farmers work hard to protect the soil and water of this state which, for generations, have provided food for their families and yours.  That is why IFBF has joined with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Water Environment Association to file litigation challenging a rule adopted by the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) over inappropriate voting by an out-of-state resident Commission member and the conflict of interest by another EPC member.

A lawsuit, filed October 4, 2010, raises questions about the legality of the EPC vote last December which approved a new water quality rule. "The livelihoods of farmers, rural businesses and all Iowans are adversely affected by the new antidegradation rules," said IFBF President Craig Lang.  "The rule will stifle new economic development and job creation, especially in rural areas of Iowa."

"We know that the antidegradation rule will likely increase sewer and storm water rates for many Iowans, whether they live in small, rural towns or large Iowa cities," said Ted Payseur, government relations chair of the Iowa Water Environment Association.  The IRFA agrees; "While Iowa is the nation's leader in renewable fuels production, this new EPC rule threatens the future of that status," said IRFA executive director Monte Shaw.  "Imposing excessive costs and limitations that go above and beyond the Clean Water Act will severely hamper the ability of current biofuels producers to expand and will discourage new producers from locating in Iowa."

The lawsuit contends two EPC members had significant issues that should have prevented them from voting on the antidegradation rule.  Residency was the issue for regulator Carrie LaSeur, founder and president of the environmental activist group, Plains Justice.  LaSeur was already living and voting in Montana when she cast her vote on the Iowa antidegradation rule. That is a clear violation of the residency laws governing the EPC, which require members to be registered Iowa voters.

Susan Heathcote is an employee of The Iowa Environmental Council, an environmental lobbying group which pushed EPC adoption of the antidegradation rule; she had a clear conflict voting on a measure that affects her employer and her paycheck.

The lawsuit also spotlights procedural irregularities with the adoption of the antidegradation rule.  "Iowans need to believe they are represented by lawmakers who have their best interests in mind; not appointed members of a board, serving their own agendas," said Lang.


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - July 29, 2010 -Country Maid, owner of the Butter Braid® brand and strong contender in the fundraising industry, wins the July Iowa Farm Bureau Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur award for its sound business model and commitment to the communities they serve.

What started 21 years ago as a pastry-making project to help a West Bend, Iowa couple with six children make it through the Farm Crisis has now grown into a successful manufacturing and service company with approximately 80 independent dealerships in 44 states. All of the dealerships are dedicated to employee ownership, creative marketing approaches and a strong commitment to keeping rural Iowa vital. Country Maid now has 61 employees in the West Bend area and many more in their other dealerships.

The Butter Braid® pastry product line has a dedicated following which spans generations. "A big part of the experience is that the customer bakes the product themselves; it's not just something they warm up," said Darin Massner, Chief Executive Officer of the company. Country Maid has grown over the years and continues to strive for excellence. "We're in the process of moving into a new building that is adjacent to our old facility on the north side of West Bend. The move will give Country Maid more space and will allow for the enhancement of food safety standards well beyond federal and state requirements," said Massner.

"A number of Iowans are familiar with the good deeds Country Maid has done over the years, not just by employing local residents, but also by providing a quality product that many area kids rely on to raise funds for our schools and community projects," said Dan Chism, Palo Alto County Farm Bureau president. "Their motto suits them well: 'Helping Others Help Themselves,'" said Chism.

Providing business planning is just part of the expert help available through Farm Bureau's Renew Rural Iowa program. For more information about Renew Rural Iowa or upcoming VentureNet Iowa business mentoring seminars, call 800-254-9670 or log on to the Renew Rural Iowa website at www.renewruraliowa.com.


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA -July 23, 2010--The nation's leader in post-frame storage construction is offering its first-ever discount, exclusively to Farm Bureau members in Iowa.

This partnership means Farm Bureau members now qualify for a $500 discount on all Morton buildings, including the company's new Country Craft series, or a $1,000 discount on buildings that include Morton's Energy Performer package. It's not just farmers who have counted on Morton buildings for generations; the company's building offerings also include hobby shops, garages, horse barns, homes and commercial buildings. The Illinois-based company operates more than 100 construction centers and has sales offices in 36 states. Morton Buildings has custom-constructed thousands of buildings a year since it entered the machine storage building industry in 1949. "We have nearly 500,000 satisfied customers and share many common values with Farm Bureau members and the state's proud agricultural history," says Morton Buildings, Inc. President Jeffrey Neihouser. "We employ hardworking Iowans to represent our company and carry out our mission of providing value to our customers. We look forward to partnering with Farm Bureau and contributing to its mission of helping the residents of Iowa," says Neihouser.

To receive the Morton Building discount, Farm Bureau members must present their Farm Bureau membership card. For more information on the exclusive membership benefit discount, go to the Iowa Farm Bureau website at www.iowafarmbureau.com or call the Iowa Farm Bureau member hotline toll-free at (866) 598-3693. For more information on Morton Buildings, Inc. visit the company's website at www.mortonbuildings.com or call Morton toll-free at (800) 447-7436.


Now that school is out, my 13-year-old daughter is embracing her new schedule. In short, she doesn't do anything. These last few days have found her on the couch, TV blaring, i-pod headphones in place and reading an e-book on her Nook. I can't help but think that although my childhood on the farm was difficult, there were lessons learned by all those hot, summer days spent bean-walking at dawn, fence-painting at noon and manure-scooping at sunset -- lessons she'll never learn.

Although this is a short-term blip before her sports, church and academic summer camps begin, it still seems like those camps, wonderful as they are, can't possibly teach the life skills I learned growing up on a farm.

I learned how to be strong by hoisting hay bales; I learned how to be tolerant walking beans--getting up before dawn, cutting weeds out of steaming, muddy fields that stretched for miles; I learned how to be fast by chasing pigs that got out of the feedlot; I learned to be gentle but firm while holding squirming baby pigs for vaccination; I learned about the circle of life when animals we raised from birth were sold to market (regardless of my tears and months of bonding). All are skills unlearned by today's Iowans, now three or more generations removed from farming.

Not only are too many suburban-dwelling kids like my daughter removed from the character-building value of the sweaty, dirty, heavy-lifting jobs which are a part of farm life, they're uneducated on modern food production. How can we be surprised when they are seduced or recruited by animal activists who claim food today comes from cruel practices or polluters? Many kids have never been on a farm to gain the experience to discern the truth themselves.

But, I propose we find a way to get these suburban "couch dwellers" to a type of Farm Camp, where they can spend a week or two pulling weeds, painting fences, chasing pigs, scooping manure. They just may learn that it takes more than a trip to the grocery store to put food on the table. And, who knows how that knowledge can be applied to benefit parents everywhere; I have a feeling that if nothing else, these suburban kids will come away from livestock chores thinking they have no reason to complain when Mom tells them to pick up after their dog in the back yard, you know?

Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau. 6/15/2010

Governor Culver Addresses Delegates, Answers Farmers' Questions

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - Dec. 4, 2009 --Farm Bureau members from across Iowa gathered in downtown Des Moines December 2 and 3 to discuss innovations which can help farmers remain viable through these tough economic times.

Governor Culver visited with members at the start of the meeting and discussed the budget shortfall and possible impacts on a variety of state programs.  Culver is required to propose his new fiscal budget by January and Farm Bureau members let the Governor know that agriculture is already being negatively impacted during this economic downturn, noting that additional regulations and restrictions would compound the problem and break the backs of family farmers and other small businesses.  The Governor had declared the week of November 28 - December 5 as "Iowa Farm Bureau Week," in honor of the work done by IFBF supporting the people, progress and pride of Iowa.

Seed genetics which can boost the drought and pest-resistance of corn and soybeans were discussed during one of several forums for farmers during the IFBF meeting.  The executives of Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto discussed new seed development of "stacked" corn seeds containing herbicide and corn pest resistances. The seed developers agreed that the time needed to get government approval for distribution has increased at least six-fold in the last five years, and farmers are waiting and needing that seed technology. The seed breeders also discussed the important role Iowa farmers will continue to play in developing drought, pest and disease-resistant strains to help meet the growing food demands of India and China. "We need to increase production, both globally and locally. They're not making more land," said Bill Niebur, Pioneer Hi-Bred vice president for crop genetics research and development.

Another popular forum was the discussion of electric power regulation, generation and distribution. Roger Tjarks, director of Heartland Power REC, Greg Watkins of the Iowa Office of Energy Dependence and Kenric Scheevel of Dairlyand Power Cooperative led a lively discussion with farmers. Since Iowa is now second in the nation in wind energy production, the subject of how to sustain or build on that success was a hot topic. "There will be a buildup of wind (energy generation) in two years, but wind energy is not cheap," said Tjarks. "As long as we can't get it out of here, we'll pay the price in Iowa."

The issue of renewable energy and technology is tantamount to overcoming economic obstacles that threaten the continuation of many good, Iowa family farmers.  IFBF President Craig Lang told members during his annual address that embracing innovation is the key to family farm survival.  "Iowa can be so much more than a commodity-driven economy. We shouldn't be satisfied with only food, fiber and energy from our soils.

We must reach into the creative minds of our farmers and universities to create a 'Living Economy'--- one that is renewed --- not mined and harvested from a shrinking global supply. Iowa's future is in capturing the renewable value of the sun, soil, and rain that falls freely from the sky," said Lang. "Combining these resources with a strong and growing livestock and poultry industry will add millions to rural communities, now in search for new revenue because of declining rural opportunities."

For more information about IFBF's 91st Annual Meeting, including a detailed list of award winners, photos and IFBF President Craig Lang's Annual Meeting address, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.

          • -30-