Why Iowa? Melissa Norem | America's Cultivation Corridor
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Why Iowa? Five Questions with Melissa Norem


Melissa Norem


From her first job out of college and continuing through her current role as director of Producer Strategy at Scoular, Melissa Norem has found opportunities that make the most of her farm background, economics and business focus and love of learning.

Norem grew up as an active member of her family’s farm in Hubbard, Iowa, juggling farm work with school and sports. She earned a degree in economics from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and began her career in the agriculture industry with Archer Daniels Midland as a merchandiser trading wheat middlings for the eastern United States flour mills. In four years with ADM in northwest Ohio and Kansas City, she learned a lot about supply and demand, logistics and agriculture markets before beginning her 18-year career with Scoular.

Norem and her husband, Hank, moved back to their home state of Iowa in 2009. She recently graduated from Iowa State University’s Executive MBA program. After growing up 35 miles from Ames and a 20-plus-year career in the agriculture industry, Norem is happy to be a proud Cyclone alum!

What are your priorities as Director of Producer Strategy?

The first 15 years of my career at Scoular was spent trading various commodities – wheat, corn, soybeans, milo and distillers. Three years ago, I had the opportunity to build a newly created function at Scoular – Producer Strategy. In this role, I lead a team that focuses on the company’s engagement and communication with farmers in four key areas: risk management, technology, regenerative agriculture and producer outreach. We work with our network of originators and facilities throughout the United States to understand the dynamic changes happening at the farm gate and explore how Scoular can better support producers.    

Scoular is a more than 130-year-old company that works with nearly every step in the ag and food supply chain. How do you support farmers as they meet growing demands for transparency, sustainability and more?  

We work closely with farmers across the country to understand their needs in a changing economy and agricultural industry, including forming a Farmer Advisory Roundtable Members group (FARM) in 2022 to gain insights on topics including water management, regenerative agriculture, risk management, and more.

We’ve introduced new tools such as the digital ScoularView and Latitude Marketing Services to help farmers with risk management and grain marketing along with managing their operations’ accounting. A regenerative ag pilot program at several grain handling facilities has included farmers in the program design along with end-use customers and validation partners.

Why did you return to Iowa after roles in other states?

The primary catalyst for my husband and I to move back to Iowa was raising our children in the great state where we were raised and the opportunity to be near extended family. Quality education, affordable housing, safe communities and job opportunities were all priorities factored into our decision. Iowa was a special place to grow up, and it’s now a special place to work and raise my family. I encourage my daughters, Ava (16) and Claire (13), to write their own story, and make their journey their own. Whether they stay in Iowa, return some day or find their place elsewhere, I always want them to know and appreciate the firm foundation they have as a result of being raised here in Iowa.

What advice do you have for someone considering a move or return to Iowa? 

Iowans have an immense pride in our state. This shows in everything from our culture, to our schools and job opportunities, to the way we treat one another and honor our heritage. There is something unique in being able to experience rural and urban areas, and to see both types of communities thrive in our state.

Please share three recommendations of things to do or places to go in Iowa. 

Decorah. From hiking and biking to streams, springs, and local restaurants – we love it all! 

Check out local coffee and ice cream shops. I encourage you to seek these places out when you’re traveling across the state.

Sporting events. We love to attend sporting events – including those that our daughters participate in and beyond! There are opportunities to cheer on your local school district’s student athletes, as well as rooting for our state’s Storm, Cyclones, Hawkeyes, Panthers, Bulldogs and more! 

Published May 2024.

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