“Welcoming everybody to his farm on a searing August afternoon, Ron Rosmann lets the pleasantries go for 12 minutes before getting to the heart of things. Around him, about 70 growers sit like school kids on bales of hay, braced to hear him.
Rosmann has been farming organically for 36 years on western Iowa’s fertile hills, and his voice is as gravelly as the road that runs alongside his land. You might think farming without pesticides would get easier over time, but you’d be wrong. An impossibly rainy planting season and runaway giant ragweed have made this year his toughest yet.
“What are we experiencing?” he asks the group. “Warmer temperatures, more rainfall, warmer nights, 10 years in a row of cold, wet springs. I’m getting more and more nervous.”
The growers, all members of Practical Farmers of Iowa, or PFI, are here to learn how Rosmann copes. A rare alliance of organic and conventional farmers, their views on climate change run the gamut of opinion. They meet on different farms around the state to share practices and today have come out for a “field day” to observe how Rosmann and his family produce beef, pork, chickens, eggs, popcorn, and grains on 700 acres—without chemicals.