Rural America 2020, a non-profit dedicated to highlighting the negative impacts of President Trump’s policies across midwestern farm states, launched a new effort across Iowa ahead of Vice President Mike Pence's Aug. 13 visit to the state to launch the Farmers & Ranchers for Trump Coalition.
The Iowa Rural America 2020 Steering Committee is comprised of farmers, agribusiness professionals, former elected officials and community leaders.
“Our committee will put a spotlight on how many of the policies President Trump has championed have failed rural Iowans,” said Doug Thompson, a member of the Iowa Rural America 2020 Steering Committee. “Those policies include the trade war that hurt Iowa ag exports, broken promises on ethanol and the poor response to COVID-19. This is about rural Iowans talking to rural Iowans. We are going to help cut through the misinformation and make sure that Iowans are hearing every side of the story.”
This month, Rural America also released radio ads that will begin in Michigan that share the stories of farmers who have borne the burden of President Trump’s trade war.
Members of the Iowa steering committee come from across the state and represent a diverse cross-section of experience and expertise.
- Doug Thompson who grew up in Kanawha, Iowa. Before returning to the farm in the middle 1970's, Thompson served as a Field Representative for the Iowa Beef Producers Association, Assistant Director of the Agriculture Division of the Iowa Development Commission, and Marketing and Advertising Manager of Agripro Seeds. Thompson has farmed the family's Century Farm located east of Kanawha for the past 40 years. During that time he served as a board member of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the National Corn Development Foundation and the U.S. Feed Grains Council. Most recently, serving as chairman of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board.
- Chris Henning – Since 1992, Henning has been a landowner and crop-share farmer in Greene County near Jefferson, Iowa. An active member of Women, Food and Ag Network, she participates in the “Women Caring for the Land” program, is a Cover Crop Champion for the National Wildlife Federation and president of Raccoon River Watershed Association. She is featured in the 2017 book, Women and the Land.
- Aaron Lehman is a fifth-generation family farmer from rural Polk County, Iowa, where he and his family raise corn, soybeans, oats, and hay. Lehman was elected to serve as the IFU president in 2016. Lehman has previously served on the North Polk School District Board of Directors, the Iowa Citizen Action Network Board of Directors, and various school and church communities.
- Marcella R. Frevert is a retired teacher who served in the Iowa State Education Association. She served seven terms in Iowa House of Representatives. She is also a past president of Iowa Reading Assn, Emmetsburg Citizen of the Year, AAUW Award, served as chair of Administrative Rules Review Committee for a few years, served on Iowa FSA state committee.
- William Frevert is a veterinarian who maintains a cow/calf operation. He is a member or former member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (life member); Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (Life Member); Iowa State University Alumni Assn; Farm House Fraternity; United Methodist Church; Palo Alto County Cattleman, Corn Growers, Soybean Assn, Hog Producers, Sheep Growers, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk.
- John Judge grew up on a cow-calf farm in southern Iowa’s Monroe County. He served as a Marine Lieutenant in Vietnam and at Headquarters Marine Corps. Following military duty, he operated the family farm and also worked for a banking company specializing in purchasing farm loans. He was appointed Chairman of the USDA Iowa Farm Service Agency.
- Tom Furlong is a fourth-generation farmer in eastern Iowa raising corn and soybeans along with a cow calf herd. He is a Vietnam era veteran. Furlong served twelve years on the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors, three years on the Muscatine Community School Board and several years on the Iowa FSA State Committee.
- Tom Grau is the Pocahontas County, Iowa Economic Development Executive Director. Before becoming the director, Grau served in various positions and leadership roles. Most recently, Grau was the Director of the Business Development Division, for the Iowa Department of Economic Development. He also helped coordinate the United States Biotechnology Association, which included 28 governors. In these roles, Grau coordinated Business Development Programs for the state of Iowa. During 1999-2000 Tom served as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign agricultural services in Washington D. C. focusing on loan and rural programs as well as crop insurance.