Anti-Rastetter group meets in Cedar Falls; talks strategy

By JON ERICSON, | Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:00 am

CEDAR FALLS Iowa — Last weekend Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement protested at the homes of Gov. Terry Branstad’s staff to remove agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter from the Iowa Board of Regents.

On Tuesday night, the group met in Cedar Falls to talk strategy to oust Rastetter from the board which governs the state’s public universities.

CCI filed an ethics complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign board in June over Rastetter’s involvement with Iowa State University and AgriSol Energy, a business led by Rastetter working to buy and develop farm land in Tanzania.

Representatives for Rastetter and Branstad have denied a conflict of interest between Rastetter’s work on the board and AgriSol. However, Rastetter recused himself from discussing issues of AgriSol and Iowa State last September.

More than 40 people turned out at the Cedar Falls Recreation Center for the “Fire Rastetter” session. Some were longtime CCI members, others were involved in Occupy Cedar Falls or groups that fought against the closure of the Malcolm Price Laboratory School.

Critics of AgriSol, including CCI, Food and Water Watch and the Oakland Institute, say the Tanzania project will uproot 160,000 refugees from Burundi, some of whom have been farming in Tanzania for decades. AgriSol investors have said the project has components that will help small local farmers improve their methods.

Iowa State was brought on board with the project to provide services and training to farmers in the area. The university cut ties to AgriSol in February. Rastetter made a $1.75 million donation to the entrepreneurship program of Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Speakers at the Tuesday event said the Rastetter AgriSol controversy is just one example of how corporations are taking more control of universities in Iowa and across the nation.

“Bruce Rastetter is a real egregious example of what you see as far as corporate influence at our public universities,” said Tim Schwab of Food and Water Watch. His watchdog group also has signed on to CCI’s ethics complaint.

CCI and Food and Water Watch gave out petitions to those in attendance to encourage people to sign on to remove Rastetter from the Regents.

The group started planning to be present at the Aug. 3 Board of Regents meeting in Cedar Falls as well as the Aug. 23 meeting of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, where that board will decide whether to further investigate the Rastetter ethics complaint.

“We’re really facing issues of the encroachment of corporate power into our institutions. We are seeing more and more of that in higher education,” said Joe Gorton, a criminology professor at the University of Northern Iowa.

More anti-Rastetter sessions are planned Wednesday in Iowa City and Thursday in Ames.


Take action

  • Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter –  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest. Click here to read more and add your name.
  • Dig on this issue with other Iowa CCI members and guests from Food and Water Watch at meetings in Cedar Falls, Iowa City and Ames the week of July 16. Find details on our calendar page.

Join the fight

Two great letters slam the Daily Iowans bad editorial on Rastetter and Agrisol.

Two great letters to the editor from CCI members appeared in the July 13 Daily Iowan in response to their editorial “AgriSol profits don’t make the company at fault” that ran the day before.

Read the letters to the editor online here:

Rastetter and Tanzania

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. The Daily Iowan‘s July 12 editorial “AgriSol profits don’t make the company at fault” makes an ideological argument about the value of so-called “free markets” and “feeding the world” without any critical analysis of the actual facts on the ground, much less the perspectives of the poor refugees directly affected.

These are the facts. Bruce Rastetter is a hog and ethanol baron and vulture capitalist who gave Gov. Terry Branstad’s re-election campaign $160,000. Branstad returned the favor by appointing Rastetter to the state Board of Regents. Rastetter spent months abusing his power as a regent to leverage Iowa State University to provide cover for a corporate land grab in Tanzania that could displace as many as 160,000 refugees.

Rastetter’s deal with Tanzania could allow his corporation to lease 800,000 acres of land for 25 cents an acre. The subsistence farmers on the land — who currently grow a variety of crops and account for 40 percent of the region’s food on just 4 percent of the land — will be forcibly displaced and moved to urban slums, where they will no longer be able to feed themselves or their families.

With the land cleared, Rastetter will bring in Monsanto, Smithfield, and all the major corporate ag titans and build factory “farms without farmers.” Rather than employ local people, they will bring in migrant workers from South Africa — a classic colonial divide and conquer tactic.

The products produced will not feed local Tanzanians. They will be sold on international grain and ethanol markets. The livestock will go to Southeast Asia. Rastetter and his investors stand to make up to $300 million a year.

Local people don’t benefit when corporations extract all the natural wealth of a region and take it out of the country with them.

Misty Rebik
Iowa City resident

Rastetter has conflict of interest

Food & Water Watch respectfully, yet completely, disagrees with The Daily Iowan Editorial Board’s assessment of Bruce Rastetter (“AgriSol profits don’t make the company at fault,” July 12). While suggesting the preposterous — that Rastetter’s operation in Tanzania is actually a humanitarian cause that will cure “mental retardation” through providing cheap eggs to poor people in Africa — the Editorial Board completely ignores a long paper trail showing the ways in which Rastetter has deeply compromised both himself and Iowa State University through his Tanzanian land grab.

Rastetter has acknowledged his conflict of interest — serving on the Board of Regents while also working with the school on his for-profit project AgriSol — but only after media attention embarrassed him.

The AgriSol project has created additional conflicts for administrators and professors in the College of Agriculture, who eagerly decided to put the personal interests of Rastetter above those of the students, farmers, and consumers in Iowa.

The public deserves a Board of Regents and a university that are forthright, upfront, and honest; that serve the public at all times, and Rastetter’s presence in Ames would appear to make this impossible.

Matt Ohloff
Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch


Take Action

  • Join hundreds of other Iowans calling on Gov. Branstad to fire Bruce Rastetter –  the man unable to separate his role as an Iowa public Regent from his personal financial interest. Click here to read more and add your name.

Join the fight

Iowa CCI’s annual convention isn’t your ordinary shindig.

Two hundred CCI members just like you and me will join us for a day of discussion, action, and a whole heck of a lot of fun.

We’ve been planning for months to bring you the most powerful convention we can. And now, we’re excited to share some of the details with you – so excited that we’re even knocking $10 off the registration fee if you register today or tomorrow using this link:


And, now without further ado…the top three reasons you should register now and join us this Saturday:


1. Four info-packed workshops unveiled 

Get inspired and informed. Find out which workshops our four nationally-known speakers will lead here. See the full day’s agenda here.



















2. We will take action on an issue you care about.

We can’t reveal where we’ll be going, but we can tell you this year’s action is related to our #FireRastetter campaign, which has gotten a huge response from a wide audience of Iowans across the state.


















3. We have fun when we’re together

Connect and re-connect with like-minded Iowans and get re-energized in the fight for the Iowa you want to see. The convention is high-energy fun from beginning to end. 


















And, to make the deal even sweeter…

if you register for the convention today, you are also invited to attend our  Friday night kick-off party, 6-9pm, at our Des Moines office (at 2001 Forest Avenue), where you can rub elbows with our four nationally recognized keynote speakers, meet fellow CCI members from across the state, eat good food, and drink home-brewed beer – absolutely free!

We’d love to have you join us this Saturday.

You’ll save $10 only if you use the special link included in this email. I hope you’ll click here now to register for Saturday’s Statewide Convention for only $35, or visit:


Help us spread the word – be entered to win a brand new, hot off the (union) press CCI “People First” tshirt>>

Here’s how:

1. Click LIKE or TWEET below or share the link to this page on your Facebook page with why you think people should come.
2. Then be sure to leave a comment on our Facebook page here – that’s how you’ll be entered into the drawing.

Need some more CCI merchandise?


You are in luck because we just got a new shipment in! There are many ways to place an order so don’t worry you can get your gear somehow.



Here are the ways to order:

    • Call the office at 515-255-0800
    • Email
    • Or click here for a printable order form which you can mail to the CCI headquarters (2001 Forest Ave. Des Moines, 50311)


Our Bold Vision, Bold Action Statewide Convention is just around the corner.

We’re excited you’ll be joining us!

Below is all the info you need to know to be ready to join in on the fun this Saturday, July 13th.

If you have anymore questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 515-282-0484.

  • Friday Night Kick-off Party: Joining us for the party Friday?  We hope so!  We’ll gather at the CCI Statewide Headquarters at 2001 Forest Ave. in Des Moines around 6:00 pm for food, fellowship and fun.  Catch up with old friends and meet new ones, including our guest speakers!
  • Registration:  Registration, coffee and social hour starts at 8:00 am in the ballroom.  The convention will officially begin at 9:00 am and will wrap-up around 4:15 pm.
  • Directions:  The convention will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn at 8600 Northpark Drive in Johnston just north of I-80 on the west side of 86th Street.
    From I-80:
    -Take Exit 129, the NW 86th St. exit toward Camp Dodge.
    -Turn north on 86th St.
    -Turn left on Northpark Dr.
    A map is listed below. If you need further directions call the hotel at (515)270-8890.

  • Pie Auction:  There will be a home-made pie silent auction featuring of some of Iowa CCI’s best bakers.  It’s a fun way to help support CCI, so come ready to bid on some truly tasty pies!
  • What to Wear:  If you have a CCI t-shirt, we encourage you to wear it! Also, layers are a good idea as the hotel might be chilly. Wear comfortable shoes you can walk in.

Don’t have a CCI t-shirt, but would like one? We’ll have CCI merchandise to purchase at the convention.

  • Agenda for the 14th:

8:00     Registration opens  – and social hour with coffee,   Silent pie auction begins             

9:00     Opening Plenary – celebrating another year of victories

10:10   Workshops Session –  you’ll pick two workshops from four dynamic speakers to get inspired on the issues you care about most

12:15   Lunch

12:40   Lunch Program & Keynote – hear from Keynote Larry Cohen and national movement leaders on what it will take to achieve our bold vision for Iowa, and the country

2:00   Call to Action – always the highlight of the day – whether we’re putting our feet in the street or listening to surprise guest speakers, join us and find out

3:30    Closing Plenary – call to action report-back, upcoming events, and setting the “People-First” agenda for 2014


If you’ve got any questions, call us at the office at (515) 282 – 0484.

Get inspired and informed.

We are excited to unveil the four, ok five, dynamic workshops being presented by our great guest speakers. 

This year, back by popular demand, you will have the opportunity to attend TWO workshops instead of just one! Rest assured, all the workshops will have one common underlying theme – confronting corporate power.


Moral action in the fight to confront corporate power:

What are some of the direct actions and demonstrations over the past year that stick out most in your mind? Why do you remember those? Together we’ll dig in on our own history of direct action as an organization and look at recent examples of those that utilized the power of personal stories (think the I am the 99% tumbler photos and OccupyourHomesMN). Sally will guide break out group discussions on we can inject our personal stories and more to move hearts and minds and up the level of pressure in our fight to confront corporate power!

Speaker:  Sally Kohn Sharp as a tack, witty, and a tough, speak-truth-to-power commentator, Sally is brave enough to be the progressive voice on Fox News. Yes, Fox News.


Exposing ALEC and other corporate lies:

You’ve probably seen the headlines – people pressure has forced 25 giant corporations to pull out of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). But there’s still more to be done. In this revealing workshop, Lisa will lay out the breadth of their pro-corporate agenda and what that means for our communities and our democracy and discuss what grassroots groups can do to stay on the offense against big-money corporate front groups locally and nationally.

Speaker:  Lisa Graves — We wouldn’t know nearly as much as we do about ALEC were it not for Lisa and the Center for Media & Democracy, a leading organization on exposing corporate spin and disinformation over the past 20 years.


The long road to justice: how corporate power feeds on racism:

In this riveting workshop Heather will dig deep on the ties between corporate power and institutionalized racism and how views that we now see as fringe and extreme have actually, and intentionally, come to form the basis for several key economic policies that exist today. She’ll also share some big ideas for what we need to do to reverse this trend with a progressive economy that works for all.

Speaker:  Heather McGhee — a forward-thinker with years of experience dismantling racism and envisioning a new economy that works for all, Heather is VP of populist think–tank Demos.


Taking on corporate power in Minnesota – Lessons for Iowa:

From affordable healthcare to factory farming, corporate power is getting in the way. Mark will share hopeful organizing stories from the Minnesota countryside about everyday people standing together to get action on these issues and discuss how we must take on corporate power with racial equity and escalating tactics.

Speaker:  Mark Schultz—a long-time powerhouse organizer, Mark is the associate director of the Land Stewardship Project, a CCI ally organization.


“Fire Bruce Rastetter” Strategy Session:

We’ll take this session to dig in and develop strategy for our “Fire Bruce Rastetter” campaign. Rastetter abused his position on the Board of Regents, exploited African refugees and diminished Iowa State’s Ag reputation all for his own personal financial gain. This is our best chance to show that this type of politics is not what we want in Iowa and this is not the future we want for our land grant universities. We want big thinkers in this session, but more importantly members who are willing to play an active role in some way – be it calls, letters to the editors, turnout.

Speakers:  Mark Schultz, CCI staff and members


>>Read more about the speakers by clicking here

>>Go back to the home convention page


RSVP online today or contact us at 515-255-0800.


Click LIKE and TWEET to invite your friends to join you!