11-18-2021 in Article
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) community was deeply saddened on July 22 of this year by the death of Senior Field Coordinator Kent Mowrer.
His death left a big hole in CSIF and in Iowa agriculture.
“He was a true farmer at heart,” says livestock producer and long-time friend Richard Welch. “He always had their best interest at heart; not just individual farmers, but Iowa farmers as a whole.”
“He was an amazing advocate for livestock production in Iowa,” adds Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Not only in word, but in deed.”
As Senior Field Coordinator for CSIF, Kent assisted livestock and poultry farmers in following all rules and regulations, choosing good locations for new livestock barns and feedlots, enhancing relations with neighbors and implementing best management practices that improve air, soil and water quality.
He was known for bringing sound science and an ability to look at all angles to the job.
“He made sure sites were well placed, visually appealing, and in regulatory compliance,” says Naig. Kent was a real advocate for the Green Farmstead Partner Program, encouraging producers to plant windbreaks to provide aesthetic and air quality enhancements to their livestock sites.
Kent also had a knack for people, in each situation looking at the best option for the family involved, as well as the farm’s neighbors and community.
He answered questions in realistic terms and just as importantly, asked questions. Have you thought about that? What if this?
“His approach shows the value of being proactive,” says Naig. “With his help, producers have been able to head off mistakes and possible black eyes on themselves and the livestock industry. That gives producers the confidence they are making the right move, and gives the public assurance and confidence in the industry as well.”
For producers, Kent coming to the farm was often a turning point in their project. He was able to assess the commonsense aspects of a barn siting with his expert knowledge of the rules and regulations, and livestock production.
From coffee shops and fence line conversations to official public meetings, he was able to share that knowledge simply and effectively.
Kent used his mild manner and expertise not just in siting, but participated in livestock facility open houses, where he mingled with neighbors and answered questions while showing off the latest in technology and construction.
“CSIF open houses give people the chance to go into a facility, have a meal, talk to the family, look the place over. That’s something they can’t do after the animals come in,” says Naig. “And that kind of transparency is invaluable to their understanding modern livestock production.”
Kent was insistent on doing things right the first time.
Eric Crossman, who knew Kent many years before enlisting his and the Coalition’s help in a barn siting, says that was a life-long trait. That, and genuinely wanting to help farmers. They grew up in the same rural neighborhood.
Crossman enlisted CSIF to help with a livestock barn in 2012. “Kent helped us plan and talked with neighbors. He made sure we were setting things right for the future.” Kent was not one to sweep issues under the rug, choosing instead to confront potential problems head on. “Even if it meant more time and money up front, he could see the value in it. I’m living the dream now because of Kent and the Coalition.”
Mowrer grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm near Perry and received a degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University.
He spent his early career as a site development manager for an Iowa hog company, research assistant for Monsanto and research associate for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, as well as an ag account representative for Alliant Energy where he was responsible for managing relationships with ag customers and advising and assisting farmer customers constructing new facilities.
Welch knew Kent back in the day, working to site livestock units across Southeast Iowa. “Kent told it the way it was, then followed up with dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s. And he was always a gentleman.”
Kent came to CSIF in July 2010 and quickly became known for his individualized, think outside the box approach.
Chad Wilkerson is one of a long line of Iowa livestock producers who claim Kent as a friend, testament to his personal side as well as his professional acumen.
In siting and planning 8 hog sites and a cattle operation, it was the time sitting in the shop talking with Kent that set the tone. “His wealth of knowledge was invaluable, and if he didn’t know the answer to a question, he would get it,” says Wilkerson. “But he was just one of the guys. He had such a practical approach and country boy common sense about what we had to do.”
Wilkerson says Kent can be summed up in three words: honesty, genuineness, and family. “He was honest and would tell you what he thought. He was genuine with no BS. And he was so proud of his family. His time showing lambs with his kids was the highlight of his life.”
“Kent had a passion for livestock, a passion for farming, and a passion for farmers,” says Naig. “The ag community will miss him. But I’m sure what he has done and who he was will inspire the same passion in others. He has left a legacy his family, and all of Iowa, can be proud of.”
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy. The non-profit, non-partisan organization aids farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the coalition at 800.932.2436.
(By Terri Queck-Matzie for CSIF. Queck-Matzie is a freelance writer from Greenfield).
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