Crop Reporting Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 are up for election. The candidates are as follows:
Monica Lursen has been involved in farming for over 60 years growing up as a farmer’s daughter and as a farmer’s wife outside of Clarksville in Butler County. She has been proudly leading her farm since 2011 following the loss of her husband.
Lursen serves on the Butler County Corn Growers Board, the Iowa Corn Growers District 2 Board, is an active Iowa Farm Bureau member, Iowa Corn Growers Association member, and Iowa Soybean Association member. She is also a member of the Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development (I-LEAD) Class 2 and the Hardin County Women in Ag Marketing serving as a peer mentor.
Lursen believes in advancing the role and knowledge of women in agriculture working to assist those who find themselves managing the farm following the loss of a spouse of or any other circumstance to thrive. She understands the importance of educating the relationship of nutrition and corn production.
She has a degree from Iowa State University remaining active in her program of study organizations as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, ISU College of Human Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council serving as chair, has been honored as one of 39 Iowa State University ‘Faces of Iowa State University’ portraits and is active in the Faith Lutheran Church in Shell Rock. Alongside her two sons, Christopher and Patrick, Lursen raises corn and soybeans.
Jerry Maier farms near Eagle Grove in Wright County where he raises corn and soybeans. Maier has been farming since graduating from Iowa State University in 1981 with a degree in farm operations and has been actively involved in the Wright County Corn Growers Association for nearly 35 years.
Maier sits on the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee and is a member of the U.S. Grains Council Asia Advisory Team. In the past, he served a three year term as the Iowa Corn Growers Association District 2 Director, vice chairman of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee, sat on the Iowa Corn Animal Ag and Environment Committee and served on the National Corn Growers Association Food, Feed, and Industrial Action Committee for two years. Maier is also actively involved in his community serving as chairman of the Wright County Board of Adjustment and co-chair of the City of Eagle Grove Planning and Zoning Commission. In the past he has served as president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a church council member and the Eagle Grove Community Development Commission for 15 years serving as president and vice president.
Maier is passionate in finding new uses and markets for corn as well as educating consumers about ethanol. He and his wife, Susan have two sons, Brett and Brandon, who also remain involved in Iowa Corn.
Kevin Pope has been farming over 20 years outside of Mason City in Cerro Gordo County raising corn, soybeans, and seed corn. He currently farms with his brother Adam while also managing a custom chemical application and farm drainage business. Pope also has experience in custom wheat harvest, helping in Montana with wheat harvest.
Pope has been active in his county Farm Bureau Board holding the positions of president, vice president and treasurer and is a current state voting delegate. He is also involved in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee serving as the vice chair. Pope is a member of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
Promoting the use of higher ethanol blends, increasing the demand of corn through trade relationships and holding firm on the recent RIN waivers are among Pope’s goals for the future of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. He and his wife, Abby have two children, Tess and Lyla.
Jim Fitkin has been farming for over 40 years outside of Cedar Falls raising corn, soybeans and popcorn. He also has experience in milking dairy cattle for 25 years on the family’s farm.
Fitkin has be raising, processing and marketing FIT-POP popcorn for 33 years as his attempt in producing a value-added Iowa corn product. He currently serves on the Black Hawk County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the District Advisory Counsel with the Iowa Soybean Association and as a director for East Central Iowa Co-Op.
If elected to the board, Fitkin’s would make his priority in helping to educate the public on what Iowa farmers really do. There are too many negative voices misleading the public about agriculture and he believes without the truth, more regulations will be placed on the farmer only to further impede Iowa farmers in their effort to produce food at a profit.
Fitkin has a degree from Iowa State University in professional agriculture. He and his wife, Debbie have three children.
Derek Taylor has been farming for seven years outside of Fort Atkinson in Winneshiek County raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa and feeder cattle. Alongside his wife Amy, he also owns an ag consulting business known as Hard Rock Ag.
Born and raised on a dairy farm, Taylor has been active on the farm his entire life. He enjoys trying new things involving conservation including no-till practices as well as cover crops. He is currently an Iowa Corn Growers Association member and has earned his certificate through the Beef Quality Assurance Program.
Taylor believes in promoting the positive image of the Iowa corn farmer by making sure consumers see the positives and finding sustainable markets for value added products consumers want.
Taylor is active in his community serving on the Holy Name Church Committee, CFS School Finance Committee, South Winn Park and Rec coaching multiple sports, South Winn High School assistant basketball coach and enjoys substitute teaching. He and his wife have two children, Evan and Owen.
Mark Kenney is a fifth-generation farmer near Ankeny where he raises corn, production seed corn, soybeans and oats. Kenney feels blessed to work on the farm his family has been harvesting for over 130 years.
Kenney is a member of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Hope Lutheran Church of Ankeny. He also is a member of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Speaker Corps where he has served for eight years. Kenney has participated in the DuPont Pioneer Next Generation Producers, a member of the Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development (I-LEAD) Class 6, has served on the Key Coop board as an associate member, on the Iowa Corn Grassroots Network and Membership Committee three years, and the Iowa Corn Industrial Usage and U.S. Production Committee for two years.
Kenney believes its very important to be involved in continuing to grow markets for our product, to ensure the next generation of Iowa Corn farmers have a much, and more, opportunity to grow their farms. If elected, Kenney’s focus would be growing demand for corn, both domestically and internationally.
Alongside his wife, Julie, Kenney has two young children and enjoys coaching his daughter’s basketball team. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwest Missouri State.
Rod Pierce has been farming for more than 40 years on his fourth-generation farm in Boone County raising corn and soybeans and previously cattle and hogs. He farms with his wife Julie, their son Bret and his daughter-in-law Liz. He has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in farm operations, is a certified crop advisor and a former Pioneer Hi-Bred sales representative for 32 years.
Rod says that ethanol has been extremely important to his operation. If elected, he will focus on promoting the expansion of ethanol sales by taking a stronger stand against the RIN waivers that have cost us millions of dollars and 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol. He would also like to explore new uses for corn. He wants to ensure that the Iowa corn checkoff dollars are spent wisely and get placed in areas for maximum return, generating the greatest exposure for the product.
He is an active member of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the St. Thomas Aquinas Church of Ames Pastoral Council. He was formerly active in the Boone County Pork Producers and Iowa Pork Producers and has held positions on the ISU Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity Eta Chapter Alumni Board, the Farm Credit Services Regional Advisory Board, and the Ogden Community School Board.
Rod and his wife Julie have four married children Jill and husband Bill Stineman, Bret and wife Liz, Matthew and wife Mary, and Mark and wife Lee, and nine grandchildren.
Ralph Lents has been farming for over 40 years, growing corn, soybeans and hay in Adair County. He has uses conservation tillage and no-till practices including buffer strips working to leave the land in better shape than when he started farming it.
Ralph currently serves as the Iowa Corn Promotion Board Director representing District No. 7 and is the vice chair of the Animal Agriculture & The Environment Committee. He also serves as the Beef Superintendent for the Adair County Fair.
He is a graduate of Iowa State University and have served in roles as president of the Adair County Extension, Corn, Soybeans and Pork Producers. He is a member of the Adair County Cattlemen, Pork Producers, Extension Board, past Superintendent of the Adair County Fair.
He was appointed to the Environmental Protection Commission by Governor Branstad in 2015 and previously served on the board of State Extension and the Central Iowa Power Cooperative.
Ralph resides in Menlo and has four children, Erica, Lou, Rob and Katie.
Jeff Thomsen has been raising corn, soybeans and cow calf pairs for over 30 years near Cumberland in Cass County. He also practices no-till farming where applicable including terraces and grass waterways.
Thomsen is currently serving his second term on the Iowa Corn Grassroots Network, Membership & Checkoff Committee and serves as a delegate at the annual Grassroots Summit. He is a member of Cass County Iowa Corn Growers, Cass County Cattleman, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa FFA Alumni Association. He remains involved his community serving 12 years on the 21st Century Coop Board as well as a past Cumberland Telephone Vice President for 15 years.
Alongside his wife Rana, Thomsen has four children, Sarah, Matt, Lane and Jace and has been working for 15 years at Schuler Manufacturing.