Craig Lang

Craig Lang

Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang is challenging farmers to “heed” the lessons of the “demise” of General Motors.  Lang — a dairy farmer from Brooklyn, Iowa — says G.M. failed to make what consumers wanted — and that should be a cautionary tale for “modern” agriculture.

“For nearly 100 years this corporation dominated the world business scheme They were the model of management and development.  If you’re my age, you know what a ’57 Chevy really meant,” Lang says.  “It exemplified power, prestige and, if you were lucky, a date.”

But Lang says G.M. failed to track and respond to changing consumer attitudes.  

“What happened to G.M. can happen to us,” Lang says.  “As in any business, if our farming industry fails to recognize our true strength of innovation and our needs to adapt to customer preferences.” 

By almost any measure, Iowa farmers “are the greatest,” according to Lang, but Lang says “tension and anxiety” are high in the farm community. Lang delivered a “Condition of Agriculture” message this morning at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Des Moines.

“Together we can achieve the unimaginable. The creative talents of our farmers…are being magnified by state-of-the-art technology that boggles my mind and this technology is put to work for our benefits as never before,” Lang said.  “I understand and I know it has been a tough year for many, but we have every reason to be optimistic.” 

Farm Bureau leaders from most of Iowa’s 99 counties gathered in Des Moines for a two-day policy conference, but some stayed home to continue the harvest.

“This has been a horrendous year for some and for many, the going may be somewhat rough at this point, but let no one doubt our resolve,” Lang said.  “My message to you today is be of good cheer.  Our time is right now to provide a desirable and successful blueprint for the future.” 

Lang argued Iowa should have a “starch-based economy” that takes the commodities that are grown and processed here — and turns them into things like soy milk, vodka, hand sanitizers and even make-up. Lang suggested the state is on its way by using “innovation and technology” to better produce raw commodities. Lang cited some statistics in his speech, saying that with “modern feeding practices” cattlemen and women produce a pound of beef with two-thirds less land than those who raise “natural-fed” beef cattle.

You can listen to Lang’s entire speech here: LangSpeech