Kent and Amy Wiese

BEING A VOICE FOR HIS PEERS, A REWARDING EXPERIENCE FOR IOWA MEAT PROCESSOR
BY TERESA HOFFMAN ON MARCH 30, 2022

Time sometimes creeps up on Kent Wiese, who has been working in the meat processing industry in Des Moines, Iowa, since 1976.

Kent couldn't help but reflect on those years when he learned he was the recipient of the Center for Rural Affairs' 2021 Citizenship Award.

"It seems like just yesterday I started doing this kind of stuff," said Kent, who co-owns Amend's Packing Company with his wife, Amy. The company opened in Des Moines in 1928. "When you get an honor like that, you stop and think, 'Oh my gosh, I've been doing this kind of work for 46 years.'"

The Citizenship Award is given to an individual or individuals who actively participate in the civic process for creating public policy, and who work closely with the Center to advance public policies that strengthen family farms, ranches, and rural communities.

Kent was honored for his efforts to raise support for House File (HF) 857 - legislation that supported Iowa's small meat processors. In 2021, with support from Center staff, he hosted a press conference at his facility and later took legislators and attendees on a tour. He also made calls and advocated to his local decision-makers, and he did several television and media interviews.

"Kent has been a strong advocate at the state level for small meat processors in Iowa," said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. "The press conference Kent hosted helped generate energy for the legislation, and soon after, HF 857 passed without opposition."

Kent's advocacy work didn't stop there. After the bill was signed, he was appointed to the Artisanal Butchery Task Force, a group created by the legislation to study challenges in the industry.

"It was good to talk to other locker members, and beef and pork producers," Kent said, noting there were also two representatives from community colleges and a culinary arts professor on the task force.

Among the group's recommendations, which are being considered by Iowa lawmakers this session, is the establishment of a community college butchery education program to help train the next generation of meat processors.

While Kent was raised on a small farm where "everybody did this kind of work," that may not be the reality for everyone interested in the industry. Even those who come from bigger plants need training to work at an operation like his.

"Most people working in big plants know one thing," he said. "In a little locker, you learn everything. I had the best teachers because these butchers who were in the 60s and 70s taught me how to do it. I'm still learning things."

The need to have a well-trained workforce became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted many long-standing challenges faced by Iowa's small meat processors. As meat supplies at grocery stores dwindled at the start of the pandemic, Kent said people were turning to local meat lockers for their purchases. So were producers looking to get their animals processed when work paused at the larger regional packing plants.

The urgency was evident by the number of phone calls his business got.

"Amy just said today that the phone had only rung six or seven times so far," Kent said recently. "Back in Covid, it was six and seven times every five minutes. Those lines were going. People were desperate to get meat and get their animals in here."

Kent and his staff worked 65 to 75 hours a week to fill custom orders.

"We did everything we could possibly do," he said. "I would go home at 6:30 and be in bed at 7 and be back down here at 4. Whoever wanted to work, I told them they could whenever they wanted because we are just going to be cutting every day. I had a good crew and still do."

At times, he said, it was a challenge to take care of everybody's needs, but they wanted to do what they could to make sure people had something to eat.

Being an advocate and voice for meat processors has been a rewarding experience for Kent. He said he liked being part of a grassroots effort and working with Center staff.

"I talked to several producers, and they absolutely love the Center," he said. "They really think the Center has done a lot for small producers and farmers."

He was also pleased that some Iowa lawmakers, including Rep. Chad Ingels, who championed the passage of HF 857, took the time to visit his facility for the press conference and tour.

"It made me feel good that they were here and listened to what we had to say," he said.

Kent, who retired and closed Amends for about seven months before opening back up again in early 2019, said processors are starting to regain their footing. He also is confident the community college program will be established.

"They'll get it going, I know they will," he said. "I know it will work if they can get students to do it. Not just somebody who wants to go into the meat business, but producers need to get in. If they want to market animals, they need to take this community college meat class."

Center for Rural Affairs

Some Wiese history

Carolyn, Kent, and Kyle Wiese 1961

1967-68

Back: Miss Robbins, Dale Hinners, Kent Wiese, Dave Kusel, Paul Weis, Bruce Antone, Steve Pfannkuch, Mark Stangl
Renee Christensen?, Sharon Reischl, Carol Espenhover, Marly Stoelk, Sue Long, Amy Brotherton, Mary Lou Rohe
Bruce Pfannkuch, Jim Mohr, Kerry Joens, Jan Karsten?, Steve Sebring, Todd Nelson, Dale Stangl, Mark Jensen

Miss Robbins got married during the school year, and quite a few of us in her class went to the wedding in Missouri.
I can't remember her first name right now, or what her married name was, so if someone remembers - please let me know...Pam is a first name that comes to mind but only a guess.


1968 wedding in Missouri - Steve Sebring?, Steve Pfannkuch, Todd Nelson, Kent Wiese?

1975 MHS graduates: Corine Altenhein, James Lyle Anthony, Bruce E. Antone, Cathleen Susan Arp, Cindy Kay Bilsten, Amy Lu Brotherton, Renee Lee Christensen, Peter Joseph Croghan, Jill Renee Escher (valedictorian), Dean D. Grau, Robbie Charles Grundmeier, Jane Francis Hacker, Thomas A. Handlos, Jeff L. Hargens, Jon Merlin Hass, Peter M. Heinicke, Dale H. Hinners, Liesa Deloris Hinners, Ricky R. Jahn, Bruce L. Jensen, Mark Kenneth Jensen, Kerry Lynn Joens, Christine Ann Kanne, Jan LaRae Karsten, Mary Imelda Kerkhoff, David August Kusel, Brian Charles Lage, Suzanne Renee Long, James Russell Mohr, Lynn Davis Mork, Richard D. Mundt, Carol Ann Musfeldt (salutatorian), Todd Randall Nelson, Debra Kay Nissen, Thomas George Opperman, Marcus dosSantos Paes, Bruce Arlo Pfannkuch, Steven Craig Pfannkuch, Johannes Helmut Plessing, Royce Lynn Ranniger, Sharon Ann Reischl, Mary Lou Rohe, Merlin Rohe, Craig Norman Rothfolk, Mark J. Rowedder, Mildred Jean Saunders, Steve Merritt Sebring, Jeff R. Siepker, Karen Rose Sporrer, Larry Francis Sporrer, Dale Kenneth Stangl, Mark Steven Stangl, Lee A. Stein, Judy Mae Stoberl, Marlys Ann Stoelk, Allen Lowell Stribe, Carol Jean Struve, Ronald E. Venner, William Henry Voge, Cynthia Kay Wanninger, James V. Weitl, William Kenneth Weitl, Kent L. Wiese, LindaLou Bernice Willenborg, Maureen Williams, Karen Marie Witt

1975 former students: Michelle Aiken, Barbara Anthony, Esther Benter, Mary Boell, Cindy Brincks, Jeff Chandler, Lori Dentlinger, Lynn Eich, Carol Espenhover, Donna Gerhardt, Dean Graves, Dennis Graves, Russell Hargens, Robert Iddings, Jerome Irlmeier, Jeanine Klemme, Jeri Ann Kloewer, Timothy Lakers, Pam Marr, Steven Mathisen, Luann Miller, Ricky Mohr, Kelly Poldberg, Martha Robertson, Michael Schiltz, Michael Schlichte, Mark Schwaller, Steve Schwaller, Dyann Sheldon, Brenda Shipps, Linda Wanninger, Paula Warner, Paul Weis

Back: Dewey Wiese?, Milford Wiese, Norma (Maloy), ?probably a sister Opal Holdsworth or Laura Derner?
Front: ??, ??, ??


1982 Donna (Wiese) Hargens - Kent's aunt.

1969 Legion Auxiliary president


Elsa (Boyens) Wiese with her son, Milford 1945 at home on leave


Carolyn Wiese

MHS 1967


Kyle Wiese


MHS 1978


Kent Wiese


MHS 1975


Manning Businesses - Crazy Days in Manning - Milford Wiese & Ronnie Hiatt

Milford with grandchild?


1 Mile Relay 1974 - Tom Gore, Kent Wiese, Keith Stribe, Rick Lohrmann


1 Mile Relay 1975 - Brian Joens, Tom Grau, Jr., Bruce Antone, Kent Wiese


Tim Kienast, Jeff Sebring, Bob Tank, Kent Wiese - State qualifiers Mile Medley team

1975 basketball - Back: Coach John Morey, Dale Stangl, Mark Rowedder, Kent Jahn, David Kusel, Bob Tank, Mike Phillips, Larry Walters
Front: Tim Kienast, Marcus Paes - AFS, Lynn Mork, Kent Wiese, Steve Pfannkuch, Jeff Wanninger, Dennis Klinker


1975 varsity team - Back: Robert Tank, Mark Rowedder, Kent Jahn, David Kusel, Lynn Mork
Front: Michael Phillips, Brian Joens, Larry Walters, Steven Pfannkuch, Kent Wiese

1974 - Back: Lonnie Rowedder, Bill Brotherton, Kyle Wiese, Jim Opperman, Neil Muhlbauer, Jeff Mohr, Tom Knop, Dean Heithoff, Brad Bjorkgren, Del Christensen, Scott Stripling, Dan Ashton, Charles Hughes, Mark Hagedorn, Don Blum, Steve Phillips
Third: Doug Opperman, Rick Warner, Mark Nulle, John Reischl, Mark Croghan, Jay Drees, Jay Mohr, Don Opperman, Wesley Dammann, Marc Arp, Terry Halbur, John Stangl, Scott Nelson, Brian Joens, Dave Opperman, Don Wurr (manager)
Second: Dan Gore (manager), Doug Schroeder, James Wurr, Dale Muhlbauer, Jeff Sebring, Keith Misselhorn, Dave Wiese, Alan Fara, Larry Walters, Tim Kienast, Mike Phillips, Bob Tank, Kent Jahn, Leon Sporrer (manager)
Front: Dale Stangl, Mark Stangl, Mark Rowedder, Steve Sebring, Jim Mohr, Kent Wiese (KW white letters), Lynn Mork, Dale Hinners, Allen Stribe, John Hass, Peter Croghan, Jeff Siepker
Coaches: Larry Miller, John Morey, Scott Robinson, Tim Hoffman


Back: James Anthony, Mark Rowedder, Jeff Siepker, Lynn Mork, Bruce Jensen
Middle: Steven Sebring, Steven Pfannkuch, Peter Heinicke, Tom Handlos, Kent Wiese, Larry Sporrer
Front: Todd Nelson, James Weitl, Jon Hass, James Mohr, Kerry Joens
8th grade track team


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