Former-Former Director Speaks Out

Yesterday a letter from Dennis Keeney (Leopold Center Director prior to Kirschenmann) began circulating online. Here are the highlights.

In a way, I am probably closer to the Center than anyone, because I was the first director in 1988 and the one who set it on course. […]

As we know, the Center is now in the midst of change, more rapid than usually happens in academia where leadership change occurs normally with slow transition from retirement or job change. […]

Much of the activist farm and environmental community are viewing this change with alarm. Are there ulterior motives in Dr. Kirschenmann’s removal? I am convinced that this is not the case. The situation in the Center had reached a point where change was needed. […]

The past two years it was obvious to me that the Iowa agricultural community was not being engaged by the Center. These are the obvious groups; the chemical and other input providers, main line agricultural organizations such as Farm Bureau, and the important commodity groups. […]

The change will be good for the Center and for the state. Dr. Jerry DeWitt is one of the most qualified persons nationwide to step in and lead the Center. […]

I wish that the leadership change had not been a necessary action. I want more than anyone to see the Center succeed over the long run. It was my life for 12 years. […]

Dennis Keeney
Former Director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Iowa State University

The very first email about this matter named the Farm Bureau as a group potentially behind the ouster of Kirschenmann. Keeney also names the Farm Bureau. Now both an opponent and a supporter of the ouster cite the Farm Bureau.

Draw your own conclusions.

Update: For anyone unaware, the Farm Bureau isn’t much of a farmer’s organization, and it certainly isn’t a supporter of sustainable agriculture. Rather it is an insurance company and rather large lobbying machine for financial and corporate agribusiness interests.

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