The Iowa Farmers Union State Convention is a chance for members from all over Iowa to connect with one another, hear from world-renowned speakers, attend educational sessions, and influence changes made to our guiding policy.
Art Cullen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor of The Storm Lake Times (a family-run weekly newspaper in small-town Iowa), and author of the new book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper.
Art has made it his life’s work to ask the big questions, speak truth to power, and share the struggles and successes of his unique community of Storm Lake, Iowa (Census pop. 10,076). His book is part cultural history, part memoir — it explores the themes of family, community, immigration and diversity, the meaning of home, and the Heartland’s turbulent history and promising progressive future.
Drawing from the stories of one special small town on the “broken prairie,” and his family’s perspectives from their small-town newspaper business, Art hopes to inspire a broader sense of dialogue, renewal and understanding of rural places.
Friday, December 1
11 am to 3 pm – Iowa Local Foods Policy Summit at the Lake Ave Lounge – 615 Lake Ave N.
Be a part of a high-level overview of the current local and regional food programs in Iowa. Leading legislators will share their legislative priorities for the upcoming session. Enjoy an entirely local meal and share your vision for Iowa’s food system. We want to build a progressive unified vision leading into the 2024 legislative session.
Confirmed Guests: Rep. Chad Ingels, Sen. Mike Klimesh, Haley Hook and Colin Tadlock – Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
* Attendees will enjoy a locally-sourced lunch catered by BozWells.
Lake Ave Lounge
IFU Education Foundation Fundraiser
Location: Kings Pointe Resort – 1520 E Lakeshore Dr.
4 pm – Put it in Writing: An Iowa Authors Roundtable
Three Iowa authors discuss their latest books. Chris Jones, The Swine Republic; Angela Tedesco, Finding Turtle Farm; Paul Durrenberger, The Dawn of Industrial Agriculture in Iowa. Moderated by Denise O’Brien.
5:30 to 7pm – IFU Education Foundation Celebration
Featuring music, food, cash bar and more! A relaxed evening of music, great food & drink and engaging community. Featured Speaker will be Alan Guebert, writer of the Food and Farm File syndicated column. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the Iowa Farmers Union Education Foundation.
Kings Pointe Resort
8 pm – Greener Pastures Showing – Kings Pointe Resort
Join us for a showing of Greener Pastures, a documentary film that dives into the lives of four American families, tracking the rise of suicide rates and growing mental health issues among Midwestern farmers. The film will be preceded by remarks from former IFU President Chris Petersen, an Iowa farmer featured in the film.
Saturday, December 2
7 am – Convention Registration and Check- in Table Opens
8 am – Convention Welcome and State of the Farmers Union Address
9 am – Diversity: Try THAT in a Small Town
Despite many dominant narratives that use “rural” as a synonym for “white” and “homogenous,” rural communities in Iowa are composed of diverse populations of individuals representing a wide array of social, racial, and cultural identities. This panel will feature folks from BIPOC, and Hispanic communities to share about their experiences living in Rural Iowa.
Shaffer Ridgeway – Southern Goods Produce, Stephanie BadSoldier Snow – Meskwaki Nation, and Emilia Marroquin – Storm Lake Community School District.
10:30 am – Choice of 3 Concurrent Workshops
Session 1: Embracing Our Progressive Heritage
A fascinating look at IFU’s history of advocacy and activism with Farmers Union historian Tom Geissel.
Session 2: Animal Agriculture: Who Decides What We Eat?
Ever since California voters passed Proposition 12 in 2018 and it became effective in September of 2022, the animal agriculture industry has been mounting a battle including a Supreme Court fight and the new 2023 EATS (Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression) Act. This workshop will feature experts on the issue as well as farmers to discuss the topic from legal and economic perspectives regarding the politics behind how meat is raised currently and how it may continue to change in the future.
Julia Johnson – Compassion in World Farming, Jennie Zwagerman – Drake Agricultural Law Center, and Ron Mardesen – Niman Ranch.
Session 3: Great Expectations: Waiting on the 2023 Farm Bill
A discussion of what may be expected in the coming Farm Bill.
Duane Hovorka – National Wildlife Federation, Aaron Shier – National Farmers Union, and Matt Russell – Iowa Farm Service Agency
11:30 am – Lunch and remarks from Rob Larew – National Farmers Union President, and Iowa Rep. J.D. Scholten
1 pm – Keynote Speaker Art Cullen
2 pm – Policy Roundtables
2:30 pm – Choice of 3 Concurrent Workshops
Session 1: Can We Fix it?
It is no secret that multinational farm equipment manufacturers like John Deere are imposing severe restrictions on who can repair the products they sell. Now, national and state-level coalitions of farmers are fighting for the right to repair the equipment that they own. Last year, Colorado became the first state to pass a law ensuring the agricultural right to repair. This workshop will feature experts on the issue as well as farmers to discuss the topic from both legal and economic perspectives regarding the politics behind who has the right to repair their own equipment when it breaks down in the farm field, and how farmers might continue to gain more rights.
Willie Cade – Graceful Development Solutions and Iowa Rep. J.D. Scholten.
Session 2: Crafting Your Rural Message
This interactive workshop hosted by Progress Iowa will empower you to hone and deliver your message for Ag activism.
Session 3: What Price Pipeline? Winners & Losers in the Carbon Pipeline Battles
Emma Schmitt, Pipeline Fighters Hub Organizer at Bold Iowa, and South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke report on the front-line struggles in the carbon pipeline battles.
3:30 pm – IFU Board Elections
View IFU Board of Directors openings HERE.
3:45 pm – Policy Roundtables and Debate
Being a Farmers Union member is all about speaking your voice – help us write the Iowa Farmers Union policy book and decide what our special priorities to bring to the 2024 Legislative Session will be.
5 pm – Convention Adjournment
Having issues with your registration? Email Christina Dexter at [email protected] or call 816-738-5402.