Iowa Central supports agriculture

According to the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers and the on the most recent U.S. census data (2012), Iowa is home to 88,637 farms, 97.5 percent of which are family owned. With all the talk of “Big Ag” coming to dominate agriculture, the average farm size in Iowa has held steady since the turn of the century: 345 acres in 2012, 331 acres in 2007 and 350 acres in 2002.

Iowa farms support a healthy and productive livestock industry. In 2012, Iowa farms helped raise 3.9 million cattle and calves, 885,568 beef cows, 204,757 dairy cows, and 20,455,666 hogs and pigs.

Iowa continues to be a national and global leader in agriculture, ranking No. 1 in production of hogs, corn, eggs and soybeans – while ranking in the top five for red meat production, number of farms, cattle on feed, cash receipts and total value of Ag exports.

Iowa was the nation’s top producer of corn and soybeans, producing approximately 1.84 billion bushels of corn and nearly 407 million bushels of soybeans.

Iowa Central serves a very diverse manufacturing base throughout our nine counties, one of which is the agricultural/bio-science sector.

While agriculture continues to be the bedrock of Iowa’s economy, it’s no secret we’re facing challenging times in terms of farm income. While these challenges have been placing a strain on our state’s budget, it’s more important than ever that we look for ways to strengthen and support our entire Ag economy. One of the priorities of Iowa Central is to expand our robust ag-related education and training programs. One area with good growth is Iowa’s pork and livestock industry.

The pork industry contributed $36.7 billion in sales in 2015, with $13.1 billion, or 35.6 percent, from swine production; $18.3 billion, or 49.7 percent, from hog slaughtering, and $5.4 billion, or 14.7 percent, from pork processing.

The sales total included $12.2 billion in added value beyond the $24.5 billion cost of inputs. One in nearly 12 working Iowans has a job tied to the pork industry. The industry produced $8.3 billion in labor income, contributed $756.4 million in state and local taxes and $1.56 billion in federal taxes in 2015.

In addition, with the construction and operation of the Prestage Farm’s Pork Processing plant located south of Eagle Grove and east of Fort Dodge, its economic impact will be very significant, as outlined in the March 2017 Goss and Associates economic impact study.

Those impacts include:

n• $300 million in direct construction investment.

• Supports 2,310 total jobs in the study area; 2,642 for all of Iowa, many of which will be graduates of Iowa Central and other Iowa Community Colleges.

• Results in $335.2 million of increased sales activity in the regional economy; $406 million statewide.

• Provides $118.3 million in wages and salaries in the study area and $152.4 million statewide.

• Adds $12.7 million in self-employed and business proprietor income.

• Contributes $20.6 million to state and local tax revenues for the 10-county region (Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright).

• Direct plant employment is 1000 pluse workers which Iowa Central will partner with Prestage to train prior to and during the operation of the plant for years to come.

• Supports, on average, a total of 3,781 jobs each year in the study area; 4,226 statewide jobs supported (direct + spillover).

• Increases local sales activity, or total impact, by $6.8 billion over the 5-year period.

• Boosts wages and salaries by $1.4 billion in the study area.

• Generates $702.6 million in self-employed and business proprietor income.

• Contributes $124.5 million to state and local tax revenues for the region.

• Trucking firms with almost $62 million in sales for year one operations.

• Wholesale trade firms with approximately $33.1 million in added sales.

• The total value of new owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing units will be approximately $585.6 million.

• Due to yearly operations of Prestage Farm’s processing plant in Wright county, the region is expected to add approximately 1,700 students and 106 new teachers to the public schools in the 10-county region and bring in $20.8 million in additional state and local K-12 spending.

While pork production is very important, north central Iowa has a proud tradition of raising quality livestock (cattle, chickens), and the industry has come a long way in terms of manure management, facilities and animal welfare. In addition, the bio-science and bio-product sector has very strong growth potential in Iowa and our region. Cargill, CJ BioAmerica, Elanco, AML Riverside, all the ethanol and biodiesel production facilities, co-op storage and feed production plants are all served by Iowa Central and other community colleges in Iowa and will continue to evolve as the economy expands.

A recent report was released by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, “The Importance of Biosciences to Iowa’s Economic Development.” The report states “Iowa benefits greatly from the bioscience sector. By any economic measure – the number of companies, economic output and exports, employment and average wage – Iowa’s biosciences industries are important to the state’s continued economic growth and development. Biosciences provide high-wage family sustaining jobs, and Iowa has been generally outperforming the nation in terms of bioscience employment growth. Biosciences are critical to Iowa’s current economic success and hold much potential for further focused development.”

When monitoring these projects and industrial growth moving forward, we encourage others to look at the full economic impact for our area, Iowa and the United States. Iowa Central will continue to serve our local workforce and diverse industrial base, and will develop the programs necessary to support the agriculture industry. We will continue working with our regional business partners, Iowa State, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy and others to maintain and expand their operations and workforce and thank the region for supporting our recent bond election which will help us move forward for years to come.

Jim Kersten is vice president, external affairs and government relations, at Iowa Central Community College.