Rural Matters

Rural Matters: Stepping Up to the Plate

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As a farmer or supporter of a farming operation, stepping up to the plate in civil service can make a significant impact on your operation, your community, and agriculture as a whole. Just as a baseball player steps up to bat, farmers can and should take their turn in local boards, commissions, and government offices. By sharing your expertise and advocating for agricultural interests, you too can contribute to a more resilient future for the next generation. 

As a long-standing partner in numerous rural communities across the Midwest, Landus encourages our farmers and staff to become leaders. Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes, from local boards to national committees and everything in between. To continue facilitating engagement throughout the Landus family we’ve pulled together a few examples and ideas of some ag-focused ways you may consider furthering your leadership journey. 

We are always interested in learning how and where we can help. If you are curious about any of these opportunities or have other ideas of how you’d like to “swing for the fences,” then please reach out to me at Elizabeth.Thompson@landus.ag.

  • USDA FSA County Committee- makes important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. Farmers may be nominated for candidacy for a county committee if they participate or cooperate in a USDA program and reside in the administrative area that is up for election that year. The committees are made up of three to 11 members who serve three-year terms. The next round of nominations being accepted through Aug. 1, 2024. 
  • Commodity Associations- are nearly all overseen by elected boards made up of producers from across the state. Each has a checkoff/promotion directive and a policy directive. Some have separate boards for each area, and some combine the responsibilities under the same board.
    • Iowa Corn- is comprised of 12-peer elected farmers on the promotion board, and 12 for the growers association, one for each of the nine crop reporting districts, and three executive members. To be an eligible candidate you must produce and market at least 250 bushels of corn and must reside within the district. Elections for each board are held in July.
    • Iowa Soy- is a single board with two directors for each of Iowa’s nine crop reporting districts and four at-large directors. Elections for open seats are held in July. Board members are elected to a three-year term and can serve three consecutive terms. To run for the board, farmers must certify that they marketed 250 bushels of soybeans in the previous marketing year, complete the application, and submit with a signed affidavit.
  • County Ag Extension Council- represents the diverse groups, issues, and concerns that characterize their county by identifying the needs of public and private enterprises, families, and communities in their county and linking to resources of ISU. Council members are also asked to assist in marketing Extension to their county as well as to cooperate with the USDA and ISU in delivery of programming. Each county has a council with nine members who serve 4-year terms. 
  • Soil & Water Conservation Commission- advocates for soil and water conservation programs, promotes conservation through demonstration, education, and outreach. They also offer guidance of their technical and financial resources for local resource priorities. Districts are organized by county, with five commissioners per district. 
  • State Boards & Commission- the state of Iowa has over 100 different overseeing boards, some of which are directly related to agriculture. The terms vary depending on the board, require an application and most have a formal nomination process by the Governor or other designee. Many will have openings as of April 30, 2024.
    • Ag Development Board- provides assistance to beginning farmers, agricultural producers, displaced farmers, or other persons qualifying for such assistance.
    • Council on Ag Education- reviews, develops, and recommends standards for secondary and postsecondary agricultural education.
    • Empower Rural Iowa Initiative- finds concrete solutions to the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in rural Iowa.
    • Environmental Protection Commission- establishes policy, adopts rules, hears contested case appeals, approves or disapproves hazardous waste disposal sites, approves budget for environmental, energy, geological, and administrative functions of the Department of Natural Resources.
    • Grain Indemnity Fund Board- administers the Grain Depositors and Sellers Indemnity Fund which was established to partially reimburse farmers for losses arising from the selling or storing of grain. They determine the amount and validity of claims made against the fund, while reviewing and adjusting the per-bushel fee and approve costs of administering the fund.
    • Organic Advisory Council- monitors conditions, practices, policies, programs, and procedures affecting the production, handling, processing, and sale of organic agricultural products. They also establish a schedule of state fees for organic certifications and review appeals and certify applications.
    • Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board- oversees the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program for Retail Motor Fuel Sites and for Biodiesel Terminal Facilities. Over the next three years, $13 million will be allocated to expand consumer access to renewable fuels.

If any of these boards, councils, committees, or commissions pique your interest, join a team and step up to the plate! We’ve linked all of their websites in this document. Our communities are what we make them, and all of these entities are run by friends, colleagues, and neighbors. If you’re interested in representing in any of them, give me an email at elizabeth.thompson@landus.ag and let’s chat about what you want to accomplish!