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Northwest Iowa Farmers Vie For District 1 ISA Board Seat

By Staff | Jul 1, 2015

Improving the competitiveness of soybeans and revenue potential is the goal of two northwest Iowa farmers vying to serve on the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Board of Directors.

Dan Chism of Emmetsburg and Mark Vosika of Pocahontas are running for the District 1 seat held by Brian Kemp of Sibley, who is terming out. The election – several other positions on the 21-member board are also up for grabs – will be held in July.

Chism was inspired to run for the board after traveling to the nation’s capital a couple of years ago to right a wrong for northwest Iowa farmers. It showed a lot can be accomplished on behalf of agriculture with effort.

The U.S. Government promised cost-share payments to growers for three years if they produced biomass – round cornstalk bales – for the local cellulosic ethanol plant. Farmers supplied the bales, but the government initially only ponied up one year of payments through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

So, Chism and others went to Washington, D.C. to ask U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for what was owed. Eventually, the farmers received $1.5 million and the North Central Iowa Biomass Association was born, which Chism serves as secretary and treasurer.

“I’ll work hard to be an advocate for agriculture and give soybean farmers a voice,” Chism said.

Both candidates said they will emphasize increasing yields and marketing opportunities if elected. Spending soybean checkoff funds in ways to improve the competitiveness of soybeans will be priority, they said.

As a trained diesel mechanic, Vosika says bio- diesel is a great fuel to increase lubricity and lon- gevity of engines. As a soybean and corn farmer, he said it just makes sense to use it.

If elected, Vosika said he’ll urge the board to seek more favorable policies and incentives at the state and federal levels for biodiesel production and use as well as support other soybean-friendly initiatives.

“It’s been my long-term goal of increasing biodiesel use,” Vosika said. “I would really like to see it used more by the people who help produce it. It’s a homegrown fuel – you’re only helping yourself.”

Both candidates say they are ready for ISA leadership roles.

Chism is a 20-year member of the Palo Alto County Farm Bureau who has held every leadership position, as well as active roles at the state and national level.

Vosika is a member of ISA’s District Advisory Council and is taking part in the ISA Experience – a four-part professional development program that helps participants enhance their knowledge and understanding of the structure and activities of the ISA and topics vital to affecting the competitiveness of soybean farmers.

“It was a wonderful experience. It set me up for leading,” Vosika said.

The winner will join Chuck White of Spencer representing District 1 which includes Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas and Sioux counties.

Ballots will be mailed to soybean farmers at the end of June and must be postmarked by July 31. Winners will be announced in early August and be seated at the September board meeting.