Ray Gaesser, an Adams County farmer who lives near Corning, is known worldwide for his agricultural innovations, pioneering conservation stewardship and volunteer global leadership. Ray brings decades of trade and policy experience. Ray believes that “strong healthy farms create strong, healthy communities.” Ray knows responsibility. When his dad died, he took over the family farm and helped to raise five younger siblings. He was only 15.
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, growing soybeans, corn and rye (as a cover crop). 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 rent another 165 acres with her brother, Chris.
Is the former Chair of the American Soybean Association and serves on the President’s Ag Advisory Committee.
Co-chairs the Iowa Conservation Infrastructure initiative to achieve economic development from Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy.
Has served as Chair and/or President of the Iowa and American Soybean Associations and the International Soybean Growers Alliance and as Outcomes Team Chairman, North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA), among many other agricultural organizations.
For more than 25 years, has participated or led 50+ trade missions (ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, BELGIUM, CHINA, CANADA, EUROPE, JAPAN, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE, KOREA, SOUTH AFRICA,ETC. )…one resulting in the largest-ever sale of US soybeans. The Gaessers have hosted dozens of dignitaries and farmers from many other countries on their own family farm , to secure strong agricultural markets and to build international relationships for Iowa and for America. They also regularly host 4-H, FFA , community college and many other youth/student groups.
Serves as an ag expert with federal agencies (US ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, US FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AND THE US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ETC.), Congress and global leaders on issues including seed and technology patents, mergers and acquisitions, weed resistance management, and more. He helped craft the U.S. Farm Bill.
In 2018, is the inaugural recipient of the American Soybean Association’s first-ever Distinguished Leader Award for strengthening the national or state soybean associations, enhancing soy-related policy and increasing farmer education and engagement. The award also noted Gaesser’s leadership in creating and increasing demand for biodiesel and strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Has received the Iowa Master Farmer Award with his wife Elaine.
Many environmental awards such as the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Is a civic leader, having served on numerous boards, including his bank, his church, Adams County Community Economic Development and Rural Development, Iowa Economic Development Ag Advisory Board and is involved in the Adams County Republican Party.
Not one of these is a paying position. Ray believes in giving back.
Renowned for his pioneering conservation for more than 30 years, Ray is a leader in soil health, water quality and energy efficiency. Long before others undertook these practices, Gaesser already was voluntarily mentoring others on how to serve as environmental stewards. Gaesser Farms is nearly 100% no-till with 50% in cover crops (goal of 100%), along with 15 miles of terraces and waterways and has achieved some 70% grain dryer energy reduction and many other energy and fuel efficiencies via GPS and other best practices.