Distinguished Service to Ag Winners Named at Iowa Farm Bureau Annual Meeting PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Iowa Farm Bureau   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 16:25


WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Dec. 9, 2011 – Bill and Nancy Couser are cattle producers who constantly look ahead to the next opportunity to improve not only their operation, but their industry. Stewart Melvin is an engineer who specializes in agricultural water issues that help farmers best care for the environment. Dolores Mertz is an 11-term state representative for District 8 who champions Iowa agriculture. The efforts of these Iowans have furthered the cause of Iowa agriculture and rural communities over the past few decades, earning the Cousers, Melvin and Mertz the 2011 Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.  All were recognized during the Iowa Farm Bureau (IFBF) annual meeting in Des Moines, Dec. 7.

The award honors individuals who have played a significant role in the agricultural industry at the local, state and/or national level.  This is the 34th year for the award.  The three winners received plaques and will be added to a permanent display at IFBF headquarters in West Des Moines.

Bill and Nancy Couser

While Bill and Nancy Couser of Nevada are recognized leaders in Iowa agriculture, they’re quick to point out that they are life-long learners; always ready to pursue new opportunities and technologies that can benefit their farm, industry and environment.

While the Cousers grew up in small towns with a love for agriculture and livestock, they both worked in other careers before starting the Couser Cattle Company 20 years ago. After a modest beginning with 24 cows, Couser Cattle Co. is now a second and third generation multi-faceted operation that annually feeds and finishes 5,000 to 6,000 head of cattle and farms 5,000 acres, producing both corn seed and soybean seed. Their son, Tim, works on the farm.

The Cousers rely on science-based research to help them run a farm that is economically stable and environmentally responsible. They have worked with a number of organizations and institutions including partnering with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), National Resource Service Center, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa State University (ISU) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a pilot system to replace the effluent basin with a series of vegetative treatment areas and infiltration systems to treat feedlot runoff to an acceptable standard and working with the DNR and Iowa State to build a mono-slope style feeding building that directs rainfall away from a new pen and allows more feeding capacity without compromising the vegetative buffer system.

The Cousers have also been instrumental in the development of Lincolnway Energy, a 50-million gallon local-investor owned ethanol plant which opened in 2006. Located just seven miles from their feedlot, the plant offers an opportunity for them to demonstrate the concept of a sustainable cycle. Couser leads tours of the plant and his farm, explaining how he raises seed corn for ethanol, uses the dried distillers’ grains for cattle feed and then uses the cattle manure to fertilize the next corn crop.

Farm Bureau has been a long-time source of information and opportunity for Bill and Nancy. They were honored as Outstanding Young Farmers from IFBF in 1981. Since then, the Cousers have been honored with a number of state and national awards for conservation and community service. Bill was named as one of 10 People Who Matter by Time magazine in 2006. He has been a director of the Story County Cattlemen's Association for 33 years, chair of ICA's business issues committee and a past vice chairman of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association animal health committee. He is a former and current president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, a director of Iowa's Institute of Cooperatives and a director of the Nevada Economic Board.

Nancy has worked as a nurse for 30 years at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames and has served as a director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Story County 4-H board, Story County planning and zoning and was a governor-appointed member of the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.

Stewart Melvin

While Stewart Melvin is an engineer by trade, he’s described as a “farmer at heart,” by the Davis County Farm Bureau which nominated him for the Distinguished Service to Ag Award.

He grew up on a family farm near Bloomfield and still owns and manages farmland in Davis County.  Stewart spent most of his career as a professor of agricultural engineering at Iowa State University (ISU).  He received all of his degrees, including his Ph.D., from Iowa State.  He has been a licensed engineer in Iowa since 1969. He also taught at Silsoe College in the United Kingdom from 1985-86.

He worked for 34 years as an extension agricultural engineer in Iowa working as a soil, water and waste management specialist prior to retiring from ISU in 2004.  He also served as head of the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at ISU for eight years.

Melvin served as the interim director for the Iowa State Water Resources Research Institute from 2002-04.

Upon his retirement from ISU, Melvin joined Curry-Wille & Associates (CWA) to work on animal waste management issues, as well as other soil and water engineering projects. He has had international consulting experience in Europe, South America, southeast Asia and Mexico.

Melvin has dedicated his professional life to working to improve agricultural waste management systems and drainage systems. From working with the environmental committee for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to leading water quality projects in Poland and Russia, Melvin has served farmers in Iowa and beyond.

He’s been recognized for his achievements including receiving the Engineer of the Year award from the mid-central regional American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1991 and 1992 and honored with the Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award in 2004.

Dolores Mertz

Agriculture has always been a central part of Dolores Mertz’s life. Whether that meant working beside her husband, H.P. “Pete,” on the family’s Kossuth County farm for 32 years to representing Iowa farmers during her 22-year tenure in the Iowa House of Representatives, Mertz has dedicated her life to agriculture. In 2010, she retired from the Iowa House of Representatives after 11 terms.

She started as a farm wife and bank teller in Kossuth County and became the first woman to serve as a Kossuth County supervisor. She was appointed to the board of supervisors in 1983 when her husband passed away and his vacancy needed to be filled. Mertz won a special election in 1984 to complete the remaining two years of his term and, in 1986, she was elected to a four-year term.

Mertz was elected to the House of Representatives in 1988, representing House District 8 which includes Humboldt and Pocahontas counties, southern Kossuth County and northwestern Webster County.

Mertz used her practical knowledge of agriculture as she served on the House Ag Committee for 22 years. She was the first woman appointed as the chair of the House Ag Committee in 2007 and served as the senior Democrat on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, with responsibilities for funding conservation and farm programs. She has also been recognized as an Iowa Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture” and has served on the Iowa Environmental Protection Council. She may be the first woman to proudly acknowledge her unofficial title as “Queen of Drainage,” as she was extremely knowledgeable about the complex law involving Iowa drainage districts.

In its nomination of Mertz, the Kossuth County Farm Bureau wrote, “Coming from an agricultural background, Dolores took this knowledge to the Legislature. She made sure that Iowa stayed focused on agriculture…she fought hard for the ideas that were important to the Iowa Farm Bureau.”

Mertz has also been a local 4-H leader for 25 years, in addition to a number of community activities and leadership roles.


Editor’s Note: To download a photo of these people receiving their award, visit They are joined by Craig Lang, IFBF past president, on their left and Craig Hill, IFBF newly-elected president, on their right.


About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online media center at

Ultimate Show Gets Ultimate Roundup PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Dana Morgan   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 09:47

For the first time, the editors of Farm Progress have pulled together all of their reporting on new products exhibited at the 2011 Farm Progress Show.

DECATUR, ILL., (12/08/2011) - The challenge of covering the 90-plus-acre exhibit field of the nation's largest outdoor farm show with more than 500 displays is no easy task. For the first time, the editors of Farm Progress have pulled together a comprehensive look at many new products they found during the 2011 Farm Progress Show.

Editors’ Picks - 100 New Ag Products
With more than 100 products included in the new Farm Progress white paper, "What's New From the Farm Progress Show - 2011 New Products White Paper," the compilation gives you a chance to download and view plenty of new technology. The report is free and available on

"We've been putting a team of editors 'on the ground' to cover the show for more than a decade, and every year we're astounded by what we turn up," says Willie Vogt, editorial director, Farm Progress. "In this first-ever edition, farmers can review those products, and have interactive access to company websites and phone numbers if they're ready to buy."

Learn About the Latest Ag Technology
Whether you're looking for information from major company introductions, or dozens of new tools and technologies from specialty and shortline companies, you'll find it in this new report. It's a concise, handy review for producers who visited the show as well.

"The white paper is an efficient, and effective, way to deliver higher-end, in-depth content for our readers," says Jeff Lapin, president, Farm Progress. "It's a service we believe our readers will do more to take advantage of as our library expands."

To download this FREE white paper, go to and click the link to "What's New From the Farm Progress Show - 2011 New Products White Paper" located at the top right of the site under the "Free Reports" heading. After a very short sign-in, you'll get an e-mail link to the information-packed document. It's that simple.

Additional White Papers
Two additional high-interest white papers are also posted on and more are in development for the site. "We're producing a range of new white papers in the next year covering a wide range of topics. Already, we're giving farmers an in-depth look at key issues with vertical tillage and with corn production," Vogt said. "And you'll see more covering everything from wind power to balers to technology issues."

New Farmer Leadership Takes Soybean Checkoff into the Future PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Monday, 12 December 2011 16:08
anessa Kummer Elected to Lead United Soybean Board

ST. LOUIS (Dec. 6, 2011) – The national soybean checkoff just wrapped up its first 20 years, but the work doesn’t end there. As the United Soybean Board (USB) launches into the next 20 years, new U.S. soybean farmer-leaders take the reins and plan to continue the focus on creating profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers.

USB farmer-directors elected Vanessa Kummer (Koo-mer) as chairperson on Dec. 6, during the checkoff’s annual meeting. The Colfax, N.D., soybean farmer will have a busy agenda leading the soybean checkoff’s implementation of a new strategic plan. Kummer looks at addressing recommendations from a farmer-driven assessment of USB and help lead the U.S. soybean industry. She will continue to shepherd the checkoff as it looks to increase soybean farmers’ profitability in an ever-evolving industry.

“It is our vision to make U.S. soybeans the leader in the global oilseed industry,” says Kummer. “We plan to create and maintain partnerships to keep U.S. soybean farmers profitable.”  Kummer is the first woman elected to chair the national soybean checkoff.

The team set to lead USB and help the soybean checkoff meet global customer demands with Kummer includes the following officers:

  • Jim Stillman, Emmetsburg, Iowa as Vice Chair;
  • Jim Call, Madison, Minn., as Secretary;
  • Bob Haselwood, Berryton, Kan., as Treasurer;
  • Lewis Bainbridge, Ethan, S.D.
  • Russ Carpenter, Trumansburg, N. Y.
  • Sharon Covert, Tiskilwa, Ill.
  • Jim Schriver, Montpelier, Ind.
  • Jimmy Sneed, Hernando, Miss.
  • Rick Stern, Cream Ridge, N.J.

Marc Curtis, a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss., will continue to serve on the leadership team as past chair.

“We have a great direction and a good team to make things happen,” adds Kummer. “We’re excited to help direct action that will increase soy’s value for all U.S. soybean farmers.”

In 2012, the soybean checkoff plans to focus on specific, new strategic objectives. They include directing soybean checkoff dollars to improve U.S. soybean meal and oil, helping ensure U.S. soybean farmers have the freedom and adequate transportation infrastructure to operate and meeting the needs customers of U.S. soy here at home and abroad. In addition, USB made supporting the biggest domestic user of soy, U.S. poultry, livestock and fish farmers, its top priority.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit
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U.S. Soybean Farmers Mark 20 Years of Checkoff Work PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Monday, 12 December 2011 10:03
United Soybean Board Sets Sights on Next 20 Years at December Annual Meeting

ST. LOUIS (December 1, 2011) – U.S. soybean farmers aren’t spending much time recognizing the first 20 years of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the national soybean checkoff. They’re too busy planning for the next 20 years.

As the national checkoff’s 20th anniversary passes, the board will meet Dec. 6-7 in St. Louis to set its sights on making sure the checkoff reaches its goals and helps maximize U.S. soybean farmers’ profit opportunities in the future.

The 69 farmer-leaders who serve on USB will observe the national checkoff’s 20th anniversary during their December meeting; they will also continue their focus on the checkoff’s new Long Range Strategic Plan.

“Now is no time to sit on our laurels and focus only on the past,” says USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss., whose successor will be elected at the December meeting. “Instead, we are focused on meeting our strategic objectives aimed at supporting our fellow U.S. soybean farmers’ profitability in the decades to come.”

Those four strategic objectives involve increasing the value of U.S. soybean meal and oil; ensuring U.S. soybean farmers have the freedom and transportation infrastructure to operate; and renewing the board’s focus on meeting customer needs.

Meeting those objectives will be nothing new for the soybean checkoff, which has accomplished much on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers in the last two decades. During that time, USB has helped grow global demand for U.S. soy, helped create and grow the use of biodiesel and Bioheat® markets, funded many new industrial uses for U.S. soy, and helped fund the research that eventually achieved the sequencing of the soybean genome.

Since the national checkoff’s inception in 1991, when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Edward Madigan appointed 63 soybean farmers from 30 states and two regions to serve as the checkoff’s first farmer-directors, U.S. soybean demand has grown by greater than 140 percent around the world, more than any other U.S. major crop. Since 2010, as agriculture leads all U.S. economic sectors in the balance of trade, U.S. soy has topped the list in agriculture.

“We are a global economy; there are other competitors around the world, not only for our soybeans but for other oilseeds that would like to have some of the market we currently enjoy,” said Sandy Ludeman, the soybean checkoff’s founding chairman and soybean farmer from Tracy, Minn. “So if we want to make sure we have a good share of the market for U.S. grown soybeans, we very much need the checkoff to invest farmer dollars in the research and promotion that will help get us there,” Ludeman said.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit
Visit us on Facebook:
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News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 12:34

Labor expert offers insight into regulations that can affect Iowa farms

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Nov 23, 2011 – Farmers are not only focused on what they raise on their farms, but who they hire to work for them, says the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).  As new laws and proposed regulations addressing labor continue to surface, IFBF is offering a webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 12, to help farmers navigate the latest labor regulations.

The labor regulations webinar will be held from 1-2 p.m. and can be accessed, for free, at  The webinar features Craig Anderson, manager of the Ag Labor and Safety Services division of the Michigan Farm Bureau.

“Labor is an important resource for agriculture and this webinar is designed to keep Iowa farmers up-to-date on existing, new and proposed regulations and discuss their implications,” said Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager.  “Farmers need to establish labor management practices that are socially responsible, comply with regulations and promote safety on the job. This seminar can help them identify areas for improvement and be successful employers.”

If you have questions on the webinar, contact Kordick at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-225-5433. The seminar will be recorded and available on the IFBF website,, starting the following day, for members to view the information on their farm/home computer. In addition, members can also access the recording of the 2011 Iowa Farm Tax Seminar at the website.


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