There was a recent article at Wallaces Farmer that caught our eye at GFN, Celebrating a century – Agriculture and Iowa have changed immensely since Iowa Farm Bureau was formed in 1918 by Rob Swoboda (Dec 11, 2018).
Global Farmer Network has its origin and roots in Iowa, and since many farmers in the state are involved with the Iowa Farm Bureau it’s just natural to have some crossover with some folks being members or involved with the organization at some point in the past.
None more so than Dean Kleckner who served as President of the Iowa Farm Bureau (IFBF) and then the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) before becoming Chairman of Truth About Trade & Technology from 2000-2012, prior to the group being renamed Global Farmer Network a few years ago.
The article in Wallaces Farmer was based on an interview with current IFBF President Craig Hill and of course focused on the hundredth anniversary of the organization, but included an important mention of Dean we thought was worth sharing:
“Another person Hill talked about was the late Dean Kleckner, whom I interviewed several times over the years. From 1986 to 2000, Kleckner was president of IFBF and then AFBF, and worked hard to build export markets and support farmers’ incomes. Growing up in Floyd County, he had a plain-speaking manner, a sense of humor and great listening skills, which helped him build strong relationships everywhere he went.
In all, Kleckner traveled to more than 80 countries, meeting foreign leaders, ag ministers and many others to help pry open the doors for additional sales of grain and meat for farmers in Iowa and the U.S. His vision for the future of U.S. agriculture stretched far and wide around the globe. All of Iowa agriculture is much better off because of him.”
It’s succint, but the two paragraphs are a great tribute. If you scroll through the columns on the now GFN website that Dean wrote, it’s amazing how timely many of them still are today. In the current age of market and trade turmoil, it’s a good reminder that the hard work of advocating for more open trade is an ongoing process with many challenges. It takes vision and perseverance, and Dean stuck with the hard work for decades, giving farmers a voice. That now extends to the Global Farmer Network helping to give more farmers a voice, including the annual Kleckner Award named in his honor.
Going into the New Year, it seemed like a good opportunity to remember everything he did advocating for farmers everywhere, and to say thank you again, Dean.