Farm Bureau director replaced after "60 Minutes" flap
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Story posted 6/22/00
By Gene Lucht
Iowa Farmer Today
WEST DES MOINES — Iowa Farm Bureau members elected a new director last week, replacing one who had been in the news after questioning organizational policy.
Doug Beckman of Mills County was elected to the Farm Bureau’s 12-person board of directors representing Southwest Iowa.
Beckman’s election came June 15 during the group’s mid-year meeting and followed the resignation of long-time director Don Narigon of Nodaway.
Narigon says he was asked to step down after he began asking for financial information following a recent segment on the television show ‘‘60 Minutes,’’ where the Farm Bureau’s financial dealings were questioned.
During that TV segment, the organization was painted as a for-profit business worth a fortune that was not using its wealth to help family farmers.
The Farm Bureau’s for-profit arm, FBL Financial Group, sells life insurance, mutual funds and annuities in 14 states.
State Farm Bureau President Ed Wiederstein, who was interviewed by 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, said last week the criticism that followed the TV show made the organization take a step back and look at how it responded to questions from members.
‘‘Overall, it’s been a positive for the organization,’’ he said.
During a speech at the June 15 conference, Wiederstein joked he was inviting Wallace to his farm for a barbecue ‘‘to find out how he feels sitting on the hot seat.’’
But speaking to reporters later, he said he could not provide specific details on the Narigon situation. Wiederstein only said the board member violated the board’s trust.
Narigon conceded he made mistakes, including disclosing some personnel moves a few days before their official announcements, and the recent questions he raised added to that distrust between himself and some of the Iowa Farm Bureau’s leadership.
‘‘It got to a point of mistrust on both sides,’’ he said.
But he said he will remain active in the Farm Bureau and added he hopes to push the organization to work harder on issues related to small family farmers.
‘‘Farm Bureau is a tremendous organization,’’ Narigon said, stressing he doesn’t want his differences with present Farm Bureau management to detract from the group’s work.
‘‘Hopefully, out of this they will be more open,’’ he said.
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