Fighting for Iowa’s Rural Communities

The Iowa Rural America 2020 Steering Committee is comprised of farmers, agri-business professionals, former elected officials and community leaders. In the coming months and weeks, they will focus on shining a light on policies that have negatively impacted ethanol production, caused record farm bankruptcies, plummeting farm prices, lower demand for Iowa’s most important commodities and related fallout in Iowa’s rural areas.

Our committee will put a spotlight on how many of the policies President Trump has championed have failed rural Iowans. 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.”

Doug Thompson, a member of the Iowa Rural America 2020 Steering Committee

Members of the Iowa steering committee come from across the state and represent a diverse cross-section of experience and expertise. Members include:

Doug Thompson – Doug grew up in Kanawha, Iowa. He went to Waldorf College in Forest City and the University of Northern Iowa, graduating with a BA in Political Science. Before returning to the farm in the middle 1970’s, Doug 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. Doug 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, Chris Henning has been a landowner and crop-share farmer in Greene County near Jefferson, Iowa. Chris and her farmer/operator have transformed her farms into great examples of sustainability – incorporating prairie wetlands and stream buffers with crop rotations, cover crops and minimum tillage to protect the water and build soil. 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 – Aaron is a fifth-generation family farmer from rural Polk County, IA where he and his family raise corn, soybeans, oats, and hay. Aaron was elected to serve as the IFU president in 2016. He is a graduate of North Polk High School in Alleman, Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Aaron 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 – Marcie 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. Marcie and her husband Bill live in Emmetsburg, IA.

William Frevert – Bill is a prominent Iowa farm veterinarian who maintains cow/calf operation on their farm. 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. Bill and his wife Marcie live in Emmetsburg, IA.

John Judge – John grew up on a cow-calf farm in southern Iowa’s Monroe County.  A graduate of Iowa State University, 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 – Tom is a fourth-generation farmer in eastern Iowa raising corn and soybeans along with a cow calf herd. He is a Vietnam era veteran and graduate of Iowa State University.  As an active community member, Tom 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. He and his wife Becky live near Letts, IA.

Tom Grau – Tom is currently the Pocahontas County, Iowa Economic Development Executive Director.  Before becoming the Director Tom 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, Tom 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.