BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — For 150 of Knox County’s 198-year history, Dave Rylander and his ancestors before him have been farming in this west-central Illinois locale.
Rylander, a Victoria-area farmer, was elected Illinois Corn Growers Association president at the group’s annual meeting Nov. 21. He will continue his role as an at-large director for the duration of his term as president, representing all corn farmer members in Illinois.
For 37 years, Rylander worked as a design engineer for John Deere, primarily designing and testing planters used in Illinois and around the world.
During that same timespan, he has been a farmer with his wife, Beth. They started farming in 1984, raising a few hundred head of hogs and growing to a 2,000-acre corn and soybean operation.
Prior to his retirement and return to the farm full time, the Rylanders purchased an old farmer’s co-op grain elevator and refurbished it for storage and drying. In addition, they repurposed its feed room and his wife opened a quilt shop called Feed Mill Fabric and Quilting.
Five years ago, the Rylanders purchased a sprayer to do their own applications and bought a Nutrien facility that was no longer in use. Nutrien built a new facility at Galva.
“We are using that facility as the basis for our chemical, lime and fertilizer applications,” Rylander said.
After his retirement, Rylander became a dealer for Precision Planting in order to remain in touch with the latest ag technology.
In addition to working for John Deere and co-managing the family farm, he also served on several committees and boards in western Illinois. For 16 years, Rylander served as the Copley Township clerk and supervisor.
Over the years, he served on the Knox County Cooperative Extension foundation board and the Blackhawk East Ag Alumni board and on the Faith Lutheran Church Council as treasurer. Recently, he was appointed to the Black Hawk College East foundation board.
After his retirement from John Deere, he was able to be more active with the ICGA.
Improvements to the waterway transportation system and finding new markets for ethanol continue to be priorities for the ICGA and Rylander in his leadership role.
Work began this year to expand Lock and Dam 25 on the Mississippi River in Calhoun County, Illinois, and Lincoln County, Missouri, to a new 1,200-foot lock chamber from the existing 600-foot chamber. The lock and dam was constructed in 1939.
“The Lock 25 work has been started, and we want to make sure that keeps moving,” Rylander said.
“The Next Generation Fuels Act is very important to us. That’s going to help keep ethanol in the forefront of the fuels industry,” he said.
“We also want to talk about the rule that the EPA is trying to propagate to push electric cars. There’s nothing wrong with electric cars, but not everybody wants one and it will be very hard on the liquid fuels industry if we don’t continue to have gasoline-powered vehicles.
“We want to keep pushing to get more of the corn families in our organization. That helps both from the advocacy standpoint — more voices make a better voice — but also that helps make sure that we’re doing what the corn farmers in Illinois really want.
“Illinois Corn Growers is the voice of corn farmers in Illinois for legislative issues both in Springfield and in Washington, D.C.”
Joining Rylander in leadership roles are Vice President Garrett Hawkins, Waterloo; Treasurer Mike Shane, Peoria; and Secretary Michael Houston, Golden.
The Exports Committee will be led by Chairman Don Guinnip of Marshall and Vice Chairman Chris Gould of Maple Park.
Elected to lead the Industrial Committee were Kate Danner of Aledo and Vice Chairman Shane Gray of Waverly.
Grassroots Committee leadership for the coming year are Chairman Mark Bunselmeyer of Maroa and Vice Chairman Sarah Hastings of Sidney.
Five farmers were reelected and will continue in their positions as directors. They are Ellen Rahn, Mount Carroll; Dan Parker, Dwight; Mike Shane, Peoria; Keith Sanders, Vandalia; and Garrett Hawkins, Waterloo. Reelected at-large directors include Danner and Rylander.