Northey praises Iowa’s ag contributions


Northey praises Iowa’s ag contributions 


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey gave a presentation at Iowa’s Dairy Center near Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) Calmar campus last week to share stories, statistics and insights on the phenomenal contribution Iowa farmers make locally, statewide and globally.

Northey’s observations about the history of Winneshiek County farm families, the role of always-evolving technological improvements in agriculture, and his talent for recalling from memory a trove of compelling Iowa farming statistics helped to convey his message to the over 70 community members who attended.

“Iowa is agriculture. Even to some of us in agriculture, we can forget how important ag is for Iowa – this is a special place. Agriculture does the best job of turning the economic engine of this state,” Northey said.

The following statistics the secretary shared, while not particularly surprising to the agriculturally-minded audience, are nonetheless remarkable and a rich source of pride for the Iowa official:

  • If Iowa were a country, it would rank fourth in the world in corn and soybean crop production behind the United States (first) and the countries of China (second) and Brazil (third). 
  • • With 14 million acres of corn produced in Iowa, the state produces more tons of grain than Canada’s 30 million acres of wheat, barley and corn combined. 
  • • From 2002-2012, the state’s agricultural crop and livestock production jumped from $12 billion to $30 billion annually.
  • • According to a 2012 study, Iowa’s Dairy Industry: An Economic Review, the total economic impact per dairy cow in Iowa is $23,445.

At the event on April 3, Northey also reminded community members that the state of Iowa and its farmers – with a comparably sparse population of 3 million and less acreage available for crop growing compared to other U.S. states – still outpaces other states and most countries in the world.

“I was talking to other farm producers and growers from around the nation and with the drought last year, the worst year for farming in 50 years, Iowa’s yields were twice theirs — and in a normal year for them,” he said, explaining that Iowa’s average yields of grain statewide were 137 bushels an acre in 2012.

To continue this success, in bad years and good ones, communities in the state need to provide support and resources to community colleges, dairy science and high school ag programs, particularly for young people,” Northey said.

“Education is very, very important to Iowans, so thank you for your support of this institution and other institutions cross the state,” Northey closed.

NICC President Liang Chee Wee concluded the event with a presentation emphasizing how collaboration between educators, state government, students, families, farm producers and consumers serve the important purpose of keeping young people involved in agriculture education and staying in Iowa.

“We need to work together – NICC, Secretary Northey, and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation – to keep our young people here in Iowa,” said Wee. “Our commitment to agriculture at NICC is real, and this particular facility, Iowa’s Dairy Center, does what farming itself is all about – to feed the world and leave a legacy,” he said. 

The event at Iowa’s Dairy Center was cooperatively sponsored by the NICC Foundation and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation to raise awareness and the need for funding for new NICC signature agriculture programs, including those that focus on dairy robotics, beef science and veterinary science, all of which are important to Iowa’s economy. 

Videos of the presentations by Secretary Northey and President Wee are available online.


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