(Des Moines)--Ray Gaesser, an Iowa farmer known worldwide for his leading agricultural innovations, pioneering conservation stewardship and volunteer global leadership, has formally announced he is running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture as a Republican. He has formed an Advisory Committee, named a campaign chairman and laid out his platform, noting that, “Strong, healthy farms lead to strong, healthy Main Streets in Iowa.”
His goals include
· Stewardship of land, air and water quality that also grows farm profitability
· Open doors of trade for farmers’ livelihood, jobs and to feed the world’s hungry
· Long-term policies and innovative practices
· Ensuring food safety while protecting farmers’ rights
Gaesser began managing his family farm in Indiana at the age of 15 to support his mother and six younger siblings after his father passed away 50 years ago. Today, after 40 years in Iowa, Gaesser, his wife Elaine and son Chris, an agronomist, own 650 acres and rent or custom farm approximately 5,400 acres near Corning in Adams County, growing soybeans and corn. On their 6,050-acre farm, they grow 3,000 acres in corn for a nearby ethanol plant while most of their 3,000 acres of soybeans are seed production for the Stine Seed Company. Their daughter Jennifer is a school music teacher and rents another 165 acres with her brother, Chris.
Throughout the agriculture industry, Gaesser Farms is recognized for incorporating the latest technology and innovations in equipment and seeds and for continuing to research and test new practices to conserve and enhance Iowa’s natural resources. An early adopter of conservation practices, Gaesser Farms has been nearly 100% no-till since 1991 and nearly 3,100 acres contain cover crops, with continuous expansion of cover crops since 2010, such as cereal rye. His family’s goal is a cover crop on every acre.
Gaesser’s expertise and volunteer leadership are evidenced worldwide by his role over the years as:
· American Soybean Association , Chairman and President, among other positions
· Iowa Soybean Association President, among other positions
· International Soybean Growers Alliance Co-Chair and American representative, representing producers of more than 90% of the soybeans grown in the world.
· 50+ agricultural trade/education missions over 25 years in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa and other countries and hosting international leaders at his own farm.
· Testimony/presentations to the US Department of Justice and Congress on the Farm Bill, biotechnology, renewable fuels, weed resistance management, seed and technology patents, and mergers and acquisitions. Volunteer Consultant to the US Environmental Protection Agency, USDA, US Food & Drug Administration.
· Co-Chair, with Bill Northey, Iowa Conservation Infrastructure Initiative, representing a cross-section of leaders identifying economic development in achieving Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.
· North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance Outcomes Team Chairman.
· Iowa Master Farmer Award recipient in 2012, Wallaces Farmer.
· National and Iowa Farm Bureau member and active in various Adams County activities.
None of these have been paying positions but volunteer leadership opportunities. Gaesser believes it’s his responsibility to serve others, to share what his family has learned, to improve agriculture and to develop strong stewardship of the land, water and air. He not only practices what he preaches, he regularly teaches other farmers in forums across the state, nation and world how to do the same. Gaesser is hailed as an ardent conservationist, teaching others how to become stewards of the soil, air and water while still being profitable, based on his pioneering successes. He also regularly mentors leadership groups and university, high school and grade school groups on his family farm.
In December of 2013, U.S. Congressman Tom Latham read and placed into the Congressional Record, Gaesser’s agricultural achievements and leadership as the American Soybean Association’s President. Rep. Latham called it “the culmination of a lifelong commitment to farming and a testament to the world-class agriculture industry of our great state (of Iowa). Gaesser credits his entire family and other Gaesser Farms team members for their farming successes.
Gaesser notes, “Farming, to me, is not a job. It’s my passion. I believe in the saying, ‘The world is changed by your example.’ Running for this position is a culmination of decades of experience and years of planning so that I can give back even more to this great state of Iowa.”