Austin is the Deputy Director of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University (an antitrust initiative), a Fellow at The Harkin Institute at Drake University, and a Senior Fellow at Data for Progress. He is also working on a book inspired by an article he originally published in The American Conservative entitled “To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System” (republished in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Civil Eats, and The Progressive Populist). This book calls for restoring the balance of power in America's food system in favor of farmers, workers, small businesses, and communities.

Austin is a 7th generation Iowan from Cedar Rapids. His mother Kathy ran a beauty salon before opening her own bakery. His father Scott delivered and merchandised beer at the same family-run company as Austin’s grandfather. Austin’s passion for agriculture came from spending his weekends with his Grandpa Frerick, who Austin calls one of his heroes.

 

Austin attended high school at Jefferson High School where he was active in soccer, cross country, newspaper, and show choir. Austin has held a job since the age of 12, when he started working at the Cedar Rapids Gazette as a paperboy. He then worked at Drugtown and spent a summer detasseling corn, which helped pay for his first car (a Ford ZX2). To the joy of his mom and his Grandma Fiala, Austin volunteered in various Cedar Rapids Czech heritage organizations, even serving for a year as Czech Prince. This role involved lots of dancing the polka, eating kolaches, and waving in parades.

 

After graduating as a class Salutatorian, Austin attended Grinnell College where he received the following merit scholarships in addition to Pell Grants: Grinnell Trustee Honor, Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the Council of Higher Education, the Czech Heritage Foundation, the Mary J. Boland Endowment Fund, the Czech Women’s Educational Society, and the Komensky Society. Throughout his studies, Austin always kept busy, including juggling four jobs. His favorite was working as a Special Needs Care Provider for the Arc of East Central Iowa, where he coordinated social activities for special needs clients in the county, including a biweekly cooking club, a summer nights program, and monthly overnight trips. In his final year, Austin wrote two college theses related to corporate power in Iowa’s slaughterhouse communities.

After being the first in his family to graduate from college, Austin attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a full academic scholarship. While a student, he worked as a Project Assistant at the acclaimed Institute for Research on Poverty, which tasked him with coordinating the administration of a multi-site field survey that explored food security and financial behaviors among low-income households with children. For his thesis, he led a group in providing recommendations to the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund to improve their experimental program in reducing child abuse.  

 

Once he completed his education, Austin took a job at the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress. He provided nonpartisan policy analysis to members of Congress and their staff and focused on income support programs and healthcare finance. He then worked as an Economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Policy. While working next to the White House, Austin published research on executive compensation, pharmaceutical corporate charity abuses, and the growth of concentration in the American economy.

 

Following the 2016 election, Austin decided to move back to Iowa to run for public office in Iowa’s Third Congressional District. Focusing on how agribusiness corporations harm farmers, workers, small businesses, and communities, he ran the first modern American trust-busting campaign. In particular, he attacked the then pending merger between the agribusiness giants Monsanto and Bayer. He took his economic populist message to national publications like The Intercept, Bloomberg BNA, SlowFoodsUSA, The Nation, and numerous small-town Iowa papers like the Creston News Advertiser, Guthrie Times, & Earlham Advocate.  Austin ended his campaign in March 2018 when he realized that he did not have the financial resources to compete.

 

Austin has continued to highlight the growing economic concentration in the American economy. He worked as the Director of Special Projects at the Open Markets Institute, where he authored the report “America's Concentration Crisis,” that was covered by David Leonhardt in his New York Times column and shared by Sen. Bernie Sanders and David Axelrod. He also created & organized the "Heartland Forum" in Storm Lake, Iowa, the first 2020 Iowa Caucus candidate event, which focused on economic concentration’s impacts on rural America. The event was attended by a number of presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

Ten Random Tidbits about Austin:

1. His heroes are Jane Addams, Grandpa Frerick, RuPaul, and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

2. One of his life goals is to win an Iowa State Fair blue ribbon for one of his pies.

3. He planted his first garden at the age of 5 (sunflowers, carrots, and pumpkins).

4. His wedding song will be “Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves.

5. His siblings and family dog all have first names that begin with the letter A (Austin, Andrew, Abby, and Abe).

6. He used to run a neighborhood library in his parent’s basement with his book collection (Andy staffed it).

7. He studied abroad in Botswana.

8. He can’t spell to save his life.

9. He still uses Netflix DVD’s.

10. His favorite hashtag is #iowaAF.

 

In The Press

Bloomberg Law (November 2019)

Quoted in “Turkey Remains Rare Meat Not Embroiled in Antitrust Probes” by Victoria Graham

Civil Eats (September 2019)

Quoted in “A Political Movement for Food Systems Change Takes Hold in the Midwest" by Charlie Mitchell

 

Washington Post (September 2019)

Quoted in “Power Up: Democrats are not only itching to break up Big Tech. Big Ag is also a focus of antitrust plans” by Brent Griffith

 

Civil Eats (April 2019)

Quoted in “At the Heartland Forum, Presidential Hopefuls Address Rural Ag Issues Head-On” by Julia Poska

 

Des Moines Register (March 2019)

Quoted in “EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Warren lays out plan to target corporate agriculture, support family farms” by Brianne Pfannenstiel and Kim Norvell

 

HuffPost (March 2019)

Quoted in “Does America Want Walmart Milking Its Cows?” by Arthur Delaney

 

Iowa Starting Line (March 2019)

Referenced in “2020 Dems’ First Big Iowa Cattle Call Is All About Rural America” by Robert Leonard

 

C-Span Washington Journal (March 2019)

Interview on “Austin Frerick on Agriculture and Rural America” with Jesse Holland

 

U.S. House Ways & Means Committee (March 2019)

Research cited in “Health Subcommittee: Promoting Competition to Lower Medicare Drug Prices

 

The Washington Monthly (March 2019)

Referenced in “Joe Biden Needs to Catch Up to His Rivals on Antitrust” by Martin Longman

 

Wisconsin Farmers Union (January 2019)

Panelist on “Competition and Concentration” at the Wisconsin Farmers Union State Convention

 

Inside Climate News (December 2018)

Quoted in “U.S. Taxpayers on the Hook for Insuring Farmers Against Growing Climate Risks

 

HuffPost (December 2018)

Quoted in “New Farm Bill Won’t Save Small Farmers” by Arthur Delaney

 

New York Times (November 2018)

Research cited in “Corporate Giants, Hurting the Economy” by David Leonhardt

 

The Intercept (November 2018)

Quoted in “Attacking Monopoly Power Can Be Stunningly Good Politics, Survey Finds” by David Dayen

 

Building Local Power (August 2018)

Interview on “Running for Congress on an Anti-Monopoly Platform” with Stacy Mitchell

 

The Intercept (August 2018)

Referenced in “Tom Carper and the Rise and Fall of the Delaware Way” by Ryan Grim and David Dayen

 

Dissent (July 2018)

Profiled in “Trust the Base” by Mark Egerman and Sean McElwee

 

Civil Eats (July 2018)

In Farm Country, Grappling with the Taboo of Talking References in “about Climate Change” by Bryce Oats

 

Mother Jones (June 2018)

Quoted in “A Democrat in Farm Country Hopes to Beat One of Congress’ Biggest Racists” by Brian Barth

 

Washington Post (April 2018)

“Mother, wife, Research cited in million- dollar patient” by Carolyn Y. Johnson

 

Bleeding Heartland (April 2018)

Quoted in “IA-03: Austin Frerick, EMILY's List endorse Cindy Axne” by Laurie Belin

 

Iowa Starting Line (April 2018)

Profiled in “More Long-Shot Candidates Should Run Like Austin Frerick” by Pat Rynard

 

Bleeding Heartland (March 2018)

Quoted in “IA-03: Frerick ends campaign, Greenfield has petition problems” by Laurie Belin

 

KCCI-Des Moines (March 2018)

KCCI Close Interview on “Up: Third District Congressional Candidates” by Steve Karlin and Stacey Horst

 

Creston News Advertiser (March 2018)

Profiled in “Heating Up: 3rd District Democrat congressional race expected to be close” by Alex Felker

 

Guthrie Center Times (February 2018)

Quoted in “Frerick Campaign Unveils Iowa Farm Bureau’s Climate Change Conflict of Interest

 

Des Moines Register (February 2018)

Quoted in “3rd District Democrats agree on the issues, but offer contrasts on experiences, approach” by Jason Noble

 

Grinnell College Scarlet & Black (February 2018)

Profiled in “The Grinnellian candidate: Austin Frerick launches local Congressional campaign” by Seth Taylor

 

Iowa Starting Line (February 2018)

Interviewed in “Ep11: 3rd District Democratic Primary & Interview with Austin Frerick” by Pat Rynard

 

Bleeding Heartland (February 2018)

Quoted in “Austin Frerick highlights another Iowa Farm Bureau conflict of interest” by Laurie Belin

 

Civil Eats (February 2018)

Profiled in “Food and Farm Policy Brings First-Time Candidates to the Campaign Trail” by Leah Douglas

 

Bleeding Heartland (January 2018)

Quoted in “Austin Frerick highlights Iowa Farm Bureau's conflicts of interest” by Laurie Belin

 

The New York Times (December 2017)

Quoted in “Mr. Mnuchin’s Magical Math on Taxes” by the New York Times Editorial Board

 

The New York Times (November 2017)

Quoted in “Ahead of Vote Promised Treasury Analysis of Tax Bill Proves Elusive” by Alan Rappeport

 

The Washington Monthly (November 2017)

Referenced in “The Democrats Confront Monopoly” by Gilad Edelman

 

WHO-Des Moines (November 2017)

Interviewed on “The Insiders: November 19th Edition, What are Congressional Candidate Austin Frerick’s Political Plans?” by Dave Price

[Part 2]

 

Earlham Advocate (November 2017)

Quoted in “Frerick of Winterset Releases the Rurally Good Deal to Revitalize Struggling Rural Communities

 

The Intercept (October 2017)

Profiled in “Anti-Monopoly Candidates Are Testing a New Politics in the Midterms” by David Dayen

 

Iowa Starting Line (September 2017)

Quoted in “Austin Frerick Proposes Farm Bill Plan To Save Leopold Center” by Pat Rynard

 

KMA-Shenandoah (September 2017)

Profile in “Frerick's campaign focuses on corporate monopolies” by Mike Peterson

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison (September 2017)

Profiled in “Alumnus Frerick seeking U.S. House seat in Iowa

 

Des Moines Register (August 2017)

Profiled in “Democrat Austin Frerick is running for Congress in Iowa's 3rd” by Jason Noble

 

In These Times (August 2017)

Profiled in “They’re Hollowing Out Rural Communities”: Why We Need to Oppose Corporate Consolidation” by Emeline Posner

 

Bleeding Heartland (August 2017)

Quoted in “Austin Frerick launches Democratic campaign in IA-03” by Laurie Belin

 

Des Moines Register (August 2017)

Referenced in “Upcoming mergers benefit America's farmers” by Don Racheter

 

Bleeding Heartland (August 2017)

Quoted in “IA-03: Austin Frerick welcomes fight with the Koch Brothers” by Laurie Belin

 

Bleeding Heartland (July 2017)

Quoted in “Meet Austin Frerick, who may run for Congress in IA-03” by Laurie Belin

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison (December 2012)

Profiled in “Frerick pursues variety of policy experiences

Publications

Data for Progress (October 2019)

Author of “Memo: Voters Support Overhauling America's School Meal Programs

 

Data for Progress (October 2019)

Author of “Memo: Restoring Independence and Fairness to Agriculture Under a Green New Deal” with Charlie Mitchell

 

Cedar Rapids Gazette (June 2019)

Author of “To revive rural Iowa, we must fix our broken food system

[reprint from The American Conservative, February 2019]

 

The Progressive Populist (April 2019)

Author of “Fixing Our Food System — and Reviving Rural America — Means Breaking Up Big Ag

[reprint from The American Conservative, February 2019]

 

Civil Eats (February 2019)

Author of “Fixing our Food System -- and Reviving Rural America -- Means Breaking Up Big Ag

[reprint from The American Conservative, February 2019]

 

The American Conservative (February 2019)

Author of “To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System

 

Forbes (January 2019)

Author of “Green New Deal Needs To Include Agriculture Technology

 

Daily Yonder (January 2019)

Author of “Speak Your Piece: Coastal Donor Democrats Need to Wake up about Rural Voters” with Matt Barron

 

Buzzfeed News (November 2018)

Author of “Democrats Can Win Back Rural America, But First They Need To Understand What Bled It Dry” with Sarah Miller

 

Fast Company (October 2018)

Author of “Should we break up the tech giants? Not if you ask the economists who take money from them" with Matt Stoller

 

Forbes (September 2018)

Author of “From The Dairy Crisis To Rising Interest Rates, An Agricultural Economist Answers

 

Forbes (August 2018)

Author of “Tom Carper: Senator DowDuPont

 

Forbes (August 2018)

Author of “Twenty-First Century Home Economics: Edible Schoolyard

 

Forbes (August 2018)

Author of “Ethanol: A Bridge To Nowhere For America's Corn Farmers?

 

Civil Eats (July 2018)

Author of “The Farm Group that’s Part of Rural America’s Crisis

[reprint from Des Moines Register, June 2018]

 

Des Moines Register (June 2018)

Author of “Iowa Farm Bureau is a suburban insurance company pretending to be the voice of farmers

 

SlowFoodsUSA (March 2018)

Author of “To Save Rural Iowa, We Need to Make Healthy Food a Right

 

FoodTank (January 2018)

Author of “To Save Family Farms, We Must Oppose Monsanto-Bayer Merger

[reprint from the Des Moines Register, July 2017]

 

Des Moines Register (November 2017)

Author of “Beer giants threaten craft breweries

 

In These Times (July 2017)

Author of “To Save Rural Iowa, We Must End Monsanto’s Seed Monopoly

[reprint from Des Moines Register, July 2017]

 

Des Moines Register (July 2017)

Author of “To save rural Iowa, we must oppose Monsanto-Bayer merger

 

Des Moines Register (April 2017)

Author of “Chasing service jobs won't save midsize cities. Education and manufacturing innovation can.

 

Bleeding Heartland (March 2017)

Author of “The human cost of Big Pharma's greed: Overcharging the Hepatitis C cure

 

National Tax Journal (December 2016)

Author of “Have Excess Returns to Corporations Been Increasing Over Time?” with Laura Power

 

U.S. Department of the Treasury (November 2016)

Author of “Have Excess Returns to Corporations Been Increasing Over Time?” with Laura Power

[reprint from National Tax Journal, December 2016]

 

Tax Notes (November 2016)

Author of “The Cloak of Social Responsibility: Pharmaceutical Corporate Charity

 

Tax Notes (October 2016)

Author of “Executive Pay Excess Raises Fiduciary Concerns: The 162(M) Provision

Bleeding Heartland (October 2016)

Author of “Why Iowans need job-protected paid leave

 

Bleeding Heartland (September 2016)

Author of “Failing Iowa’s Children: The Shortcomings of Welfare Reform and the Path Forward

 

Bleeding Heartland (June 2016)

Author of “Big Meat, Small Towns: The Free Market Rationale for Raising Iowa’s Minimum Wage

 

Des Moines Register (April 2016)

Author of “Reinvestment in higher education should be fair, simple

 

Bleeding Heartland (April 2016)

Author of “Disheartened in the Heartland: Iowa’s Disinvestment in Higher Education

 

Des Moines Register (December 2015)

Author of “Iowa should lead effort to ban non-competes

 

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© 2019 by Austin Frerick.