Gene and Marita Rouse of Huxley have been named Iowa Master Farmers by Wallaces Farmer magazine. They are among four Iowa farm families that were recognized during ceremonies in West Des Moines on March 19. The other families are Roy and Phyllis Bardole, Rippey; Brian and Cindy Kemp, Sibley and Marlyn and Ann Jorgensen, Garrison.
The Iowa Master Farmer award was initiated in 1926 by magazine editor Henry A. Wallace. Deserving Iowa farm families have been recognized every year since with the exception of 1932-37 (the Great Depression), 1942-45 (World War II) and 1962. The 2014 selections bring the total honored Iowans to 441.
Gene Rouse’s vision of farming in Iowa has always included a mix of livestock production and diverse row crop production. Raised on a grain and livestock farm near Olivia, Minn., he raised cattle, pigs and sheep for his 4-H and FFA projects. Gene studied animal science at the University of Minnesota, earned a master’s degree in meat science and a Ph.D. in animal breeding in 1971 from ISU.
An Extension livestock specialist in the Spenser area for five years, Gene and his wife, Marita, moved to an acreage near Huxley in 1976, when Gene began his new job as state Extension beef feedlot specialist. He moved to undergraduate teaching and beef cattle research, then left ISU in 2003 to begin farming full time.
Gene and Marita have grown their operation to around 900 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and pasture, and a seedstock herd of 124 registered Red Angus cows. Since some of his land is rolling, Gene’s cropping program is based on preventing erosion. Soybeans are no-till drilled in 8" rows; corn ground is field-cultivated following the removal of one ton per acre of corn stover, which is either grazed or baled and used as feed or bedding. Gene has installed grass waterways where needed, and buffer strips along creeks.
"Gene has strived to breed cattle that are functional, easy-keeping cows that will raise calves to perform with high efficiency in an Iowa feedlot," says fellow cattleman Edward Grieman, Garner, "and his philosophy is much the same as a seedstock Duroc producer."
Gene has been president of the Ballard Community school board and a mentor to senior students. He participated in the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association young leaders training program, and served on several committees and the board of directors of the Iowa Red Angus Association. He has served a president of the Story County Extension Council, coached Little League, served on the board of the Huxley Community Co-op and been active in church, preaching at various services. Gene and Marita have three children, Adam, Paul and Julie.