(Posted Thu. Jun 20th, 2013)
This article and podcast are the fourth in a series profiling candidates for the 2014 Corn Board.
June 20: Kevin Ross offers a unique combination of attributes, bringing both the energy of youth and seasoned experience of a veteran leader to his service of other farmers. Having already served farmers in his home state as president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association by the age of 33, he now hopes to serve his fellow farmers across the country as a member of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Board.
Ross decided to run for election to the Corn Board because he wants to contribute to the greater good for the future of agriculture, solidifying the ability of future generations of farmers. Through his service, he hopes to add to the strength and reputation of the organization, which he sees as agriculture’s most respected voice representing farmers today.
“For me, leadership requires a great amount of accountability and responsibility, especially at the national level,” said Ross. “It is more than just being able to put in the time. A good leader has to be forward-facing also by looking at the people who will lead after you and fostering their skills to ensure that a grassroots organization has the continuous, competent leadership necessary to serve America’s farmers.”
Through his prior service and time spent visiting farmers and state affiliates across the country, Ross developed an acute awareness of the breadth of the opportunities and issues facing U.S. corn farmers. This understanding, coupled with his leadership experience, brought him to a nuanced view of what effective Corn Board leadership requires.
“At NCGA in particular, it is important that members of leadership are responsive not only to the needs of the individual farmers but to those of the state affiliates as well,” said Ross. “Each state has unique needs and faces different situations and circumstances. As a board member, that is something that you really need to take into account.”
As a member of the Corn Board, Ross would combine the hands-on leadership experience he has gained and his professional leadership training with the business and financial acumen he has developed through his work on the farm. In doing so, he hopes to effectively represent the best interests of growers across the country to advance ethanol use, maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard, support animal agriculture and ensure farmers have the tools necessary to navigate a rapidly-evolving industry.
“NCGA needs to be the voice representing the states and engaging in the issues that affect farmers’ ability to make a living,” Ross explained. “We face many threats to our industry and, as a Corn Board member, I would push for NCGA to continue being on the forefront of this fight. Acting both as a resource for farmers seeking information and a voice for agriculture to the public, NCGA tells the story of the American corn farmer – a story of providing a consistent, safe supply of food and fuel – to the world.”
Ross is a sixth-generation family farmer in southwestern Iowa. Along with his wife, Sara, he grows corn, soybeans, alfalfa and runs a cow/calf operation. Growing corn almost exclusively using no-till methods, they hope to someday pass the farm on to their two young sons, Hudson and Axten.
In addition to his past presidency of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Ross previously served as chair of the Iowa AgState Initiative and on NCGA’s Ethanol Committee. Currently, he serves as a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and on NCGA’s Public Policy Action Team.
To listen to the full interview with Ross, click here.
The NCGA Corn Board election takes place at the July 17 Corn Congress session in Washington.