Too Big for His Britches

It is becoming clear why some people wanted Kirschenmann out of his leadership post. I started to see hints of it yesterday in statements from Interim Dean Wintersteen. From yesterday’s Ames Tribune story

Wintersteen stressed the Leopold Center is an Iowa center.

“As such, it is critically important that there are very clear projects and programs here in the state,” she said.

Wintersteen said projects and programs that begin in Iowa could then be used to solve similar issues across the country in such areas as water quality and soil conservation.

With his move into issues of national policy, and work like his ag in the middle project, Kirschenmann was becoming a voice to be reckoned with. Kirschenmann’s powerful ideas ran up against powerful politics and the latter walked away the winner.

This morning’s Iowa State Daily has a story that all but confirms my worst suspicions.

Frederick Kirschenmann, who has held the position since July 2000, was removed from his position Tuesday concerning complaints from Iowa agriculture groups accusing Kirschenmann of not communicating with them, Wintersteen said.

“There was a significant number of folks who felt like they didn’t have significant connection to the center,” she said.

Among those who complained of Kirschenmann’s performance are corn and soybean producers who wanted more research on issues the center had historically dealt with, such as water quality and conservation research, Wintersteen said.

Kirschenmann was fired demoted because he didn’t placate the big commodity groups with feel-good “water quality” research. Everyone is for water quality and soil conservation. Kirschenmann outgrew his britches when he tried to move the conversation from water quality to more systemic socio-economic issues that underlay the most significant problems faced by our farm and food systems.

2 Replies to “Too Big for His Britches”

  1. The Leopold Center has always been seen as a threat by politicians, at least since the Republicans took control of the Iowa legislature. The big-ag-friendly College of Ag administrators have always used the Center as the first place to absorb cuts to its budget. Always.

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