RANDOLPH, Iowa — After retiring from dairy farming in 2010, one of Carl Jardon’s neighbors joked he would have more time to help with the corn board. Eleven years later, he is part of the leadership.
The southwest Iowa farmer serves as the Iowa Corn Growers Association president.
“(Commodity groups) do a lot of good for us, and I think it was just time I gave back and helped do that as well,” Jardon said. “It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot and hopefully done some good.”
Jardon farms corn and seed beans with his brother, Joe, in Fremont County, Iowa. He also serves as a Soil and Water Conservation commissioner for the county, and sits on the Grassroots Network and Membership and Checkoff Committee for ICGA.
While Jardon picked up that extra time after leaving dairy farming, he quickly found ways to fill it with ICGA. He joked that the time commitment is “just four meetings,” but said there is a lot more to it than that.
“Just four meetings is a little inside joke,” Jardon said. “On an average week, I’m spending two to three hours for press releases or conference calls. In the spring and fall we aren’t doing as much because we have our day job, but we have meetings in the summer, our grassroots summit in August and then meeting starting again in November.”
He couples that with the national board meetings and groups such as the U.S. Grains Council and Meat Export Federation. Jardon said it keeps him plenty busy, but he still has fun being involved.
“It’s a way to give back to our ancestors who first started the group,” Jardon said. “They laid a lot of groundwork for us.”
One aspect that has taken time to learn is the differences just within the state of Iowa.
“What happens in Fremont County is obviously a lot different than what happens in the city of Waukee or Winneshiek County,” Jardon said. “Then you go 200 miles north to Sioux or O’Brien County where there’s so much livestock.”
Some of the milestones Jardon is proud of seeing during his time with ICGA include the USMCA trade deal and working internationally with India, the United Kingdom and the Pacific Rim to secure more export customers.
One of his biggest challenges at the moment is the standardization of E15 ethanol blends. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision hindered the expansion of ethanol sales in the summer, something Jardon said was difficult to hear.
“We thought that was a done deal but the Supreme Court kind of threw us under the bus, so to speak,” he said. “But ethanol is still the best oxygenate, so people will want to use that.”
He expects ethanol will continue to be a hot topic for years to come.
“Since the beginning of time, really, we’ve fought with big oil,” he said. “It’s like we took some bananas away from the 800-pound gorilla and made him mad. It’s too bad we can’t work together because we all want a clean environment and better air.”
While ethanol is an important corn product, Jardon noted that livestock operations are one of the biggest corn customers. That means talking and working with other commodity groups is especially important for everyone to live cohesively.
“It’s important we all work together,” Jardon said. “We all have the same goal, to feed and fuel the world. We all need to work together on these issues, from water quality to trade barriers.”