Bob Hemesath

Bob Hemesath – Winneshiek County

Bob Hemesath won’t tell you this, but he is a great example of a farmer. As a fifth generation producer, with a 2800 acre corn crop, 40,000 head hog operation, he lives and farms on the same land his great, great  grandparents did, and knows a thing or two about how to run his operation — it’s just in his blood.

Bob is also a great example of an ag-vocate. Bob feels it’s important to share his story and others of why modern day farmers do what they do. He knows there’s value in describing the care farmers take when tending to their land and keeping their water clean. He does this through conversation, telling neighbors about where their food comes from and comparing stories with fellow farmers about which conservation methods work the best on their farms. Much like he holds the responsibility of taking care of his land and raising strong, healthy crops and livestock, he also feels he holds a responsibility to share his own story about the career he and others have dedicated their lives to, farming.

We’ve all heard the saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”, and Bob has adopted this mentality when it comes to spreading the message of agriculture. He knows that if farmers don’t tell their own stories, someone else will and it might not be accurate.  

These days, with the constant buzz of the 24 hour news cycle, facts are more important than ever. So, Bob makes sharing these stories a priority, knowing every conversation, no matter how small, has the ability to make a difference. Bob also knows there is no one “right” way to tell these stories, it’s all about telling your personal story. The key is to just do it, no matter where you are. So, whether it’s telling a neighbor at church about how part of his corn crop will be taken to an ethanol plant to be turned into fuel or sending out a tweet to his followers about how modern farming is responsible for a safe and reliable food source, he knows every conversation counts and will get the world one step closer to understanding and appreciating the importance of agriculture.

Bob also knows it’s not always about educating consumers about where their food and fuel comes from, but there’s also value in sharing his experiences and practices with other farmers. He knows every time he brings the topic surrounding agriculture to the table, he’s opening the door for an opportunity for him to learn himself, or perhaps even teach. Once, while Bob was on a dry distiller’s grain trade mission trip to Mexico, he was able to share his practices with a local Mexican hog producer and shared how he uses dry distillers grains at his own hog operation in Iowa. By the end of the conversation, the local producer was on the phone asking his nutrient manager to look into incorporating and importing dry distillers grain into Mexico, proving that even a strong language barrier can’t keep Bob from sharing his passion of advocating for agriculture.

As mentioned, Bob has been to places he never would have dreamt he’d go when he was a young farmer just starting out. The same young farmer who was having difficult discussions with his mother about whether or not he was making the right decision for his future. But Bob knew what he wanted to do, and his decision to farm has taken him to countless destinations around the globe, all in the name of agriculture and a little organization called Iowa Corn. Bob, who first got involved at the county level and eventually worked his way up to President of Iowa Corn Growers Association is currently in an At-Large Director seat on the ICGA. With Bob’s passion of advocating for farmers, this should come as no surprise, as Iowa Corn is known for being the voice of and giving a voice to farmers on the issues that are the most important to them.

Bob, who grew up right here in Iowa, learning the trade of agriculture from his own father, is a man with a story to tell. A story that will continue to evolve just as agriculture itself has over the years with the introduction of technology and new techniques and ways of doing things. But Bob won’t stop there. He’ll encourage you to advocate for yourself and other farmers, too. He’ll urge you to tell your neighbor at a little league game about how you intend to leave the land better than how you found it. He’ll encourage you to tell a stranger in an elevator about the science and technology that goes into agriculture, and to tell those considering a life of farming about the opportunities it has given you. He’ll tell you there’s no wrong way to do it. And many, MANY years from now, when Bob decides it’s time to hang up his hat and park the tractor for the last time, he’ll still be out there spreading the message of farming – it’s just in his blood.