Another growing season ends
Iowa’s agricultural bounty is the envy of the world
All across Iowa, the countryside that just a few weeks ago was vibrant and green is now empty and brown. As fall wanes, winter is fast approaching. Later this month we will take part in a festive Thanksgiving celebration. That makes now an especially good time to reflect on Iowa’s remarkable agricultural story.
Since settlers first established farms in what was to become the Hawkeye State, agriculture has been critical to the region’s prosperity. While in the 21st century our economy is quite diverse, the central role agricultural pursuits play has remained of crucial importance.
With another successful harvest season ended, Iowa remains a vital source of food products both for our nation and much of the world. Most years Iowa is the nation’s top producer — or close to it — of corn, soybeans and pigs. It also is a major factor in the production of a wide range of other agricultural products.
The 2018 state agricultural overview for Iowa prepared by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides an impressive portrait of farming in our state. Here are a few of the highlights:
• Iowa has approximately 86,000 farms.
• Those farms cover 30,600,000 acres of land.
• The average farm is 356 acres.
• The livestock inventory includes about 4 million cattle and calves, 23.5 million hogs and pigs and 153,000 sheep.
• The market value of the state’s crops in 2018 was more than $15 billion.
• The market value of Iowa’s livestock, poultry and their products nearly equals that impressive number.
The enormous agricultural output of our state has enabled it to be a major exporter of food products to all corners of the globe. According to information released by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office, our state ranks second in the nation in the export of agricultural products. In 2018, Iowa’s sales abroad totaled $13.2 billion. That not only helps our state remain affluent but also helps the overall economy of the United States. Agriculture is one of the relatively few areas where America exports more than it imports. That positive contribution to the trade picture benefits not just Iowans, but all Americans.
Looking back on another productive growing season, we Iowans should rejoice in the success of our farms and related agricultural industries. Given the importance of the food we export to other nations, people all over the planet have good reason to share in that celebration.