Legacy is a gift, but it’s not guaranteed

A note from Iowa Corn’s CEO and IAWA Board Chair about the power of conservation on his family’s row-crop operation

Iowa Corn CEO Craig Floss with his dad, Bob Floss.

By Craig Floss, CEO of Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board as well as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance

At Iowa Corn Growers Association, we talk a lot about legacy. I meet farmers around the state who are proud to pass down land that has provided for their families for generations. We’ve had important conversations about soil health and erosion prevention so their land can continue to be a family asset.

Those conversations really stick with me because of the pride I have for my family’s history in farming. I am the fifth generation on our farm in Jasper County near Baxter, growing corn and soybeans.  In the past, we had a cow/calf operation with a feedlot as well as a farrow-to-finish pork operation.  Today, I get the opportunity to be actively engaged in farm management with my dad which has been very insightful for my day job working on behalf of all of Iowa’s corn farmers.

I have learned so much from my father, Bob, who learned from my grandfather, who learned from the previous generation. Learning is at the center of the agriculture industry – both from the past and from innovators who are developing the future. That’s what makes our relationships in family farming so special.

Together we are working to maintain soil vitality and water quality. We are preserving our acres that we need to successfully farm. By doing that we are preserving one of many small family businesses that our nation depends on as our population continues to grow. Without these conservation considerations, we’d be risking our agricultural future. 

Iowa Corn CEO Craig Floss with his dad, Bob Floss, next to the sign for the bioreactor on the Floss farm.

Like the farmers we work to represent at IAWA, we also know the value of protecting our drinking water.

On our row crop operation, we incorporate CRP, timber reserve, and pasture to keep erosion down, and increase native species. We are completely no-till and use cover crops on all acres. 

We have installed two bioreactors, several terraces, and grassed waterways. Our nutrient management strategy includes soil grid sampling, precision variable rate application, and a nitrification inhibitor. 

Developing these environmental strategies together have brought us closer to each other, and the business our ancestors built from the ground up, literally. My great-great grandfather farmed in the same area we do today. He harvested crops with roots that planted themselves deep into our shared home farm.

I cherish the time I am able to spend on the farm with my dad and share with my three sons.  We take very seriously and couldn’t be more proud of our on-farm sustainability efforts that we are implementing and continually upgrading, and we are confident our practices will enable future generations on our farm to continue to feed and fuel the world. Leaving the land better for the sixth and next generation under even better stewardship is part of sharing the legacy of family farming.