Policy champion

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Jorgenson named ISA 2024 Policy Champion

April 1, 2024 | Jeff Hutton

Jeff Jorgenson’s work in agriculture and how he has helped to shape policies that have and will positively impact the future of soybean farming is without parallel.

That’s why he was named the 2024 recipient of the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Policy Champion Award.

An agent of change

Jorgenson, who farms in Fremont County, has been lauded for his work that goes well beyond the rolling farm fields of southwest Iowa.

“Jeff has been on top of ag policy and was always able to articulate to politicians the effects those policies would have on farmers,” he says. “With Jeff, I always knew that the farmer’s voice was being heard, whether it was in Des Moines or Washington, D.C.”

In his nomination for the award, which was presented by Champion Seed, former ISA Senior Director of Public Affairs Michael Dolch praised Jorgenson for his “unwavering dedication to Iowa agriculture and the soybean industry, coupled with his impeccable character and leadership.”

Grasping what goes into the policies that impact soybean producers across Iowa and the United States has not been easy, Jorgenson says. Understanding the complexities behind a proposed rule is challenging.

“I really started to learn about policy early on,” he says. “You don’t want to make it hard; you want to make it black and white.”

As a former ISA president and former board member of the American Soybean Association (ASA), Jorgenson says gathering insight and perspective from other producers, industry leaders and more is key.

By working together and bouncing ideas and dialogue back-and-forth, novel ideas and initiatives can be presented to legislators. Passion from farmers showcases to politicians the importance of crafting policies that benefit those in the fields, he says.

“It’s time consuming,” Jorgenson says. “But it’s the long game. It’s an honor to be thought of as someone who makes a difference.”

It doesn’t happen overnight

Jorgenson understands that making a difference is not an overnight proposition.

“It’s not what I do today or what I did yesterday, but what you’ve done 4-5 years down the road that makes a difference,” Jorgenson says.

His commitment to the betterment of agriculture is reflected in every facet of his life, according to his nomination.

In 2022, Jorgenson was recognized with the Iowa Master Farmer award, a testament to his high character and values that set him apart from his peers.

His contributions, including his stint as ISA president, demonstrate his dedication to advancing the interests of soybean farmers in the state.

As an ASA board director, Jorgenson advocated for the industry at the national level. He has played an instrumental role in forming the Midwest Soybean Collaborative — a policy and regulatory think tank, analyzing the future challenges that soybean farmers will face and in crafting strategic solutions to address them.

“Having the privilege to advocate alongside Jeff in both Des Moines and Washington, D.C., I can attest to his ability to identify and understand complex legislative and regulatory issues,” Dolch says. “He possesses the rare talent of distilling these complexities into common sense solutions that benefit not only soybean farmers but also the broader agricultural community.”

Jorgenson’s focus on policies has included a number of topics such as biofuels and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Both areas have been challenging.

“The reality of policy is that it’s a long-term situation,” he says. “The toughest, hardest thing is that it’s not instantaneous. These things can take years. It’s always a work in progress and a lot of people have to play their part if things are to come to fruition.”

Jorgenson says not seeing results right away when it comes to policy matters is frustrating because it’s anathema to how farmers usually operate.

“As far as farming goes, we have to make marketing, planting and harvesting decisions quickly sometimes,” he says. “Policy (progress) doesn’t always fit very well as a farmer.”

Dolch cited Jorgenson's influence on the “development of forward-thinking policy resolutions. These resolutions will serve as ISA’s policy advocacy roadmap for generations to come, ensuring the productivity and profitability of Iowa soybean farmers.”

‘Finding your niche’

For Jorgenson, the time and devotion to the soybean industry is evident every day. Whether he’s surveying the soybean fields around him or in the halls of Congress or the Iowa Statehouse, Jorgenson is at the top of his game.

“You have to find your niche,” he says. “You have to find your spot.”