The Iowa Master Farmer Award was initiated in 1926 by then editor Henry A. Wallace. Deserving Iowa farm families have been recognized every year since with the exception of 1932-37 – during the Great Depression; during World War II from 1942-45; and in 1962. The 2014 selections bring the total to 441 Iowans who have been honored since 1926.
Four families are being honored today as Iowa Master Farmers. They include Roy and Phyllis Bardole, Rippey; Brian and Cindy Kemp, Sibley; Marlyn and Ann Jorgensen, Garrison; and Gene and Marita Rouse, Huxley.
A fifth-generation farmer near Rippey in west-central Iowa, Roy Bardole says it's his responsibility to contribute to a better tomorrow with a generation that can think and reason better. As past chairman of the World Soybean Foundation, Roy works to reduce malnutrition worldwide. He's inspired others, including grandson Schyler Bardole, who organized fundraisers in the Rippey area to help earn money to buy a "soy cow" machine after Haiti's devastating earthquake.
Roy and Phyllis raised three sons (Peter, Tim and Jason) on the Greene County farm Phyllis' ancestors purchased in 1903. "My dad, Paul, taught us to respect history but to embrace change," says Roy. He joined his dad on the family farm in 1965 after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations. They had a cow-calf herd, hogs, laying hens, corn, soybeans, oats and hay.
Phyllis and Roy Bardole
Today, the farm concentrates on conservation-minded crop production including adoption of no-till in 1993, strip tilling and yield mapping in 1999 and autosteer in 2004. Fertilizer is knifed into the soil in a band with the strip-till rig and GPS is used for repeatable traffic patterns. Nitrogen rate decisions are made using the Adapt N program.
Roy has devoted untold hours to volunteer position on local, state, national and international levels. He contributed to the success of the Iowa and the American Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, and U.S. Soy Export Council, serving nine years on both the ASA and USB boards.
Roy was president of the Iowa Soybean Association and chaired the U.S. Soybean Export Council. He also served as church lay leader, Rippey Lions Club president, Rippey Centennial chairman, and chair of the Iowa Nutrient Management Task Force. Over the past 30 years Roy has traveled the world promoting agriculture and use of soybeans and soy products.
Brian Kemp was raised on Iowa State University agronomy and horticulture farms in Kanawha and Gilbert, graduating from ISU with a bachelor's degree in animal science. Brian served as Extension director of Osceola County in Sibley for 15 years and earned a master's degree in agriculture. There he met his wife, Cindy, and started helping on her father's farm during planting and harvest seasons.
George Helmers, Cindy's father, a Master Farmer in 1980, was especially grateful for Brian's help in 1985 when he suffered a severe heart attack and had quintuple bypass surgery. In 1989, Brian left Extension and took over the farming operation. Since then, Brian has increased the acreage by 50% and increased yields.
The operation consists of more than 1,500 tillable acres, divided almost equally between corn and soybeans planted in 30-inch rows. Brian has progressed to integrating the latest innovations in agriculturial technology into all aspects of the operation: autosteer, grid sampling for fertility, variable-rate application, crop scouting and on-farm strip trials. He uses the Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network Program to analyze data and make informed decisions. He has also installed numerous soil and water conservation practices.
Brian and Cindy Kemp
Brian has been active in local politics; served as secretary, vice president and president of the Osceola County Farm Bureau; Iowa Soybean Association president; secretary of the executive board of the Northwest Iowa Farm Business Association; church elder; and president of the Sibley Kiwanis Club. He and Cindy have also served as officers on the board of directors of the Sibley Chamber of Commerce. Cindy remains active as a substitute teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan Community schools, where she taught for more than 25 years.
Brian has been the recipient of many community and state awards, including the Honorary Chapter Farmer Award for the Sibley-Ocheyeden FFA and the Friend of Extension Award from ISU. Brian and Cindy are the parents of two daughters: Courtney Kemp Anders and husband Robyn, and Andrea Kemp.
Marlyn and Ann Jorgensen have been outstanding leaders for Iowa and U.S. agriculture for nearly four decades. They married while in college at ISU. Marlyn worked briefly for ISU Extension; the couple moved to northeast Iowa and rented a farm, then moved to Benton County in 1967 to begin farming where Ann grew up.
Marlyn and Ann bought the farm from Ann's parents and formed a legal partnership (Jorg Anna Farms), which still exists. Marlyn handles the production and Ann the financial side, including marketing. They raised four children – Christopher, Peter, Tim and Jennifer. They once produced 10,000 farrow-to-finish hogs, and Marlyn was named an Iowa Master Pork Producer.
Ann and Marlyn Jorgensen
Today, Tim does the farming with help from Marlyn. The farm still grows corn and soybeans, using soil-saving no-till, minimum till, terraces, contouring and a number of other conservation practices. Marlyn has served on local, state and national boards. A past president of the American Soybean Association, he served on the Iowa Soybean Association board for 16 years. He was elected to the ASA board in 1983 and served until 1992, and was ASA president in 1989-90. He helped establish the national soybean checkoff, and in 1995 received ASA's highest honor, the ASA Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1997 Marlyn partnered with two neighboring farmers to start Iowa Soy Specialties, a local soybean processing company. "We wanted to make soy foods for human consumption," Marlyn explains. "We shipped our product all over the U.S. and secured 33 local investors, mostly farmers, who received a great return on their investment when we sold the company four years later."
The Jorgensens are active church members: Marlyn has held offices in the Benton County Farm Bureau, Garrison Lions Club, and other service organizations.
Gene Rouse's vision of farming in Iowa has always included a mix of livestock production and diverse row crop production. Raised on a grain and livestock farm near Olivia, Minn., he raised cattle, pigs and sheep for his 4-H and FFA projects. Gene studied animal science at the University of Minnesota, earned a master's degree in meat science and a Ph.D. in animal breeding in 1971 from Iowa State University.
Extension livestock specialist in the Spencer area for five years, Gene and his wife, Marita, moved to an acreage near Huxley in 1976, when Gene began his new job as state Extension beef feedlot specialist. He moved to undergraduate teaching and beef cattle research, and left ISU in 2003 to begin farming full time.
Gene and Marita have grown their operation to around 900 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and pasture, and a seedstock herd of 124 registered Red Angus cows. Since some of his land is rolling, Gene's cropping program is based on preventing erosion. Soybeans are no-till drilled in 8-inch rows, while corn ground is field-cultivated, following the removal of 1 ton per acre of corn stover, which is either grazed or baled and used as feed or bedding. Gene has installed grass waterways where needed and buffer strips along creeks.
Gene and Marita Rouse
Gene has been president of the Ballard Community School board and a mentor to senior students. He participated in the Iowa Cattlemen's Association young leaders training program, and served on several committees and the board of directors of the Iowa Red Angus Association. He has served as president of the Story County Extension Council, coached Little League, served on the board of the Huxley Community Co-op, and been active in church, preaching at various services. Gene and Marita have three children, Adam, Paul and Julie.