32 Iowa : Harry Stine
Seed genetics entrepreneur Harry Stine has built the richest fortune in Iowa on a small farm outside of Des Moines. Stine grew up the son of a hardscrabble farmer and began dabbling in seed breeding in the 1960s. Dyslexic and mildly autistic, but a savant with math and data, Stine quietly built some of the most genetically robust and highest-yielding soybean seeds in the industry. He was one of the first to patent the genetics of the soybean in the early 1990s and, as a savvy businessman and formidable negotiator, landed lucrative deals licensing the genetics to industry heavyweights like Monsanto and DuPont. Stine Seed still reaps millions annually from these contracts. It develops corn genetics and biotechnology traits for the seed industry as well.
Harry Stine’s current passion project is starting to take root with corn growers and could revolutionize the corn industry: seeds bred to thrive when they are densely planted, dramatically increasing farmers’ harvests. A farm-boy born with an entrepreneurial bug, he owns a small home a couple hundred yards from work and drives a Ford F-150 to the Stine Seed headquarters, where his four children work as well. He’s an avid table tennis player and enjoys hunting morel mushrooms. He donates to his alma mater, McPherson College, as well as to the Mayo Clinic.