National Farmers Union members have chosen Rob Larew, a former Capitol Hill staffer and the group's top lobbyist, to be its next president and replace the retiring Roger Johnson.
Larew, originally from Greenville, W.V., is the second NFU president from outside Minnesota and the Dakotas in nearly a decade. Tom Buis former Growth Energy CEO, of Indiana, served as the 13th NFU president in 2006 and 2008.
"I thank you for your vote of confidence and trust in this important mission that we are all collectively engaged in," Larew told members after the annoucnement. "As we continue through with policy ... as I just swore, I will absolutely do my best to fight on your behalf."
Larew had been serving as the NFU’s senior vice president for public policy and communications since 2016. He succeeds outgoing President Roger Johnson of Turtle Lake, N.D., who’s held the position since being elected in 2009.
“Just listen to the members and pay attention to the policy debate because it’s going to guide us for the next year,” Johnson told Agri-Pulse giving advice to the new president.
Larew told Agri-Pulse Johnson has been a great mentor and hopes to build off his leadership.
“It’s really about taking that leadership and kind of building an even more effective team here and really honing on those big issues that we have,” Larew said.
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Under Johnson’s leadership, NFU has expanded its education department to new and beginning farmers, increased state NFU divisions, promoted climate policy changes, and advocated for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.
Larew was chosen over two state NFU leaders also vying for the position: Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske and Pennsylvania Farmers Union board member Mike Eby.
Despite being raised on a dairy farm in Appalachia, Larew has strong ties to Minnesota’s House and Senate members. He brings over two decades of farm policy experience to the table, most recently as the House Agriculture Committee staff director for the committee's Democrats under chairman and ranking member Collin Peterson. There, he oversaw Democratic policy efforts during the 2008 and 2014 farm bills.
Before that, he served as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. He has also worked as an agricultural aide to Peterson, who now chairs the House Agriculture Committee, as well as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.
NFU has roughly 200,000 members across 33 states. Half that total lives in just two states, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
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Correction: Orginal story stated Larew was the organization's first president outside of Minnesota and the Dakotas in nearly four decades. We regret the error.