Austin Frerick highlights Iowa Farm Bureau’s conflicts of interest

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Investment revenue gives the ostensibly non-profit Iowa Farm Bureau Federation “a vested financial interest in advocating for policies that hurt Iowa’s farmers,” Congressional candidate Austin Frerick charged today. One of seven Democrats seeking the nomination in Iowa’s third district, Frerick has made economic concentration, especially in the agricultural sector, a central issue of his campaign. He has highlighted the proposed Monsanto-Bayer merger, which would result in two corporations “controlling about three-quarters of the U.S. corn seed market.” The Farm Bureau describes itself as “a statewide, grassroots farm organization dedicated to our mission of creating a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families, and their communities.” But in a statement enclosed in full below, Frerick cited documents showing that The Iowa Farm Bureau, created in 1918 to advocate for Iowa’s farmers and rural communities, now receives most of its revenue from its for-profit insurance arm, the FBL Financial Group. The FBL Financial Group is a private business entity that controls $9.6 billion in assets, generating close to $726 million in income in 2016. That $9.6 billion in assets includes many millions of dollars of investments in large agribusiness conglomerates like Monsanto and Tyson. Frerick added that because of FBL Financial Group’s investments, Farm Bureau makes money “when Monsanto charges farmers an arm and a leg for seeds.” The group has not opposed any of the consolidation of companies that produce hybrid seed for the vast majority of Iowa grain farmers. Frerick later tweeted that a classic “60 Minutes” expose inspired his investigation of Farm Bureau’s finances. In that segment, which CBS broadcast in April 2000, Mike Wallace covered the “vast network of for-profit companies” linked to the national Farm Bureau and its state affiliates: “We found that people at the top of the Farm Bureau have been building a

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