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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

This Tuesday, March 25th, there was a special ceremony at the Nations Capitol in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution. Each state has two statues of famous citizens in the Capitol. A statue of Dr Borlaug will replace that of Judge Harlan with lots of pomp and ceremony for Iowa.

He was born in NE Iowa and is an example of an ordinary man from humble beginnings who achieved extraordinary things. To prepare for his career as a world class wheat breeder, his BS degree from the U of Minnesota was in Forestry and his grad degrees in Plant Pathology.

Just goes to show that some Forestry majors turn out pretty good.

Borlaug frequently remarked that if he applied today for the wheat research positions he held, he would not even get an interview because he would not be considered qualified. Some of us had the privilege of being around him from time to time. My mentor George Cummings said often Borlaug had a special “aura” about him and each time he felt I was in the presence of greatness.

A three foot replica of the Borlaug statue was purchased for the Borlaug Learning Center at the NE Research Farm near Nashua, Iowa. It arrived on Tuesday just in time for the annual meeting last Wednesday.

If you want to know more of Borlaug go to your library, bookstore or Amazon and check on any of the biographies written by Noel Vietmeyer.

Retired Iowa State Extension Specialist George Cummins notes “Our culture is littered with “famous people”. We follow every mundane detail of the public and private lives of musicians, actors, politicians, athletes, etc. Many young people idolize and seek to emulate their actions and consider them role models.”

Jean Henri Fabre wrote:

“History records the battlefields on which we lose our lives, but it distains to tell us of the cultivated fields by which we live. It can tell us the names of the king’s offspring, but it cannot tell us the origin of wheat. Such is human folly.”

Cummins continued, “When Borlaug died in September, 2009, the Des Moines Register posted a short paragraph in their obituary columns announcing his death. The obituary was next to a ten paragraph story on Playboy magazine founder, Hugh Hefner’s latest divorce. Such is human folly.”

Do what you can to share the Borlaug story and encourage anyone you can to carry on his life’s work. Both Borlaug and Cummings are great men, men who made a difference in the world they lived. One on the world-wide stage; one to the smaller stage of farmers in central Iowa and to many new Extension agents. I was privileged to be one of those agents.

A Borlaug quote at the Learning Center should be the mantra for world leaders today- “World peace cannot and will not be built on empty stomachs and human misery.”

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