A comprehensive analysis of Iowa agriculture is detailed in a new book released by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and compiled by the Iowa office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 2017 edition of Iowa Agricultural Statistics provides statewide and county-specific stats that offer a glimpse of what agriculture in Iowa looks like today.
“This 119-page book is a reference guide and has many interesting statistics about Iowa’s vibrant and dynamic agriculture,” says Greg Thessen, director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional office in Des Moines. The book is made available by Iowa Farm Bureau, which pays for the printing.
Iowa continues to lead in corn production
The latest statistics show the size of family farms in Iowa has remained virtually unchanged since 1998, hovering around the 350-acre mark. Despite this unchanging trend, farms have continued to increase in efficiency. Iowa continues to lead the nation in corn production, and 2016 conditions were ideal for a record Iowa corn crop of 203 bushels per acre, up from the previous record of 137 bushes in 2012. The U.S. averaged 174.6 bushels per acre in 2016.
Iowa’s farmers continue to work closely with their veterinarians to improve animal health, and the statistics reflect these efforts. Today’s cows are producing 23,634 pounds of milk, up 3% from just a year ago and nearly 860 more pounds than the U.S. average. Iowa continues to lead in pork production, and with improvements have seen an increase in pig litters from 9.85 pigs 10 years ago to 10.9 pigs per litter today. Iowa is also a top egg producer, averaging 276 eggs per layer in 2016, an increase of 10 eggs from 2007.
Livestock production keeps making gains
“We continue to see Iowa farmers adapt to new technologies and use the latest animal welfare and handling practices thanks to research being done at Iowa State University and through the close relationships farmers have with their local veterinarians,” says Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau president.
He adds, “Iowa remains a powerhouse in U.S. agriculture, and it is not only due to our rich soil or geographical conditions, but the resilience and innovation of our state’s farming men and women and the abundance of careers in Iowa that lend to our increasing productivity and support of agriculture.”
Big supplies weighing on crop prices
Cost of production continues to come down but grain prices also continue to stay low, squeezing profit margins for many Iowa farmers. In 2013, raising corn following soybeans had a price tag of $4.31 per bushel, and in 2017 that lowered to $3.51. However, the 2015-16 marketing year had the average corn price as $3.35 per bushel. Soybeans following corn had a production price of $9.66 per bushel, while the average price received by farmers in 2015-16 was $9.40 per bushel.
Cash rent continues to be a top expenditure in farm operations, second to feed for animals on livestock farms. New livestock processing plants popping up in the state have greatly increased the amount of red meat, including beef, veal, pork and mutton, in Iowa. Slaughter plants in Iowa produced 7.06 billion pounds of red meat (beef, veal, pork, and mutton) during 2016, increasing 86.2 million pounds from 2015.
Net farm income falls sharply
But despite the efficiency, all is not good news on the Iowa farm front. “The data shows that the Iowa farm economy continues to suffer from a multiyear decline with gross farm receipts down 8% in 2016 compared to a year earlier and 22% below the peak seen in 2012. Net farm income in Iowa fell sharply, down 24% in 2016 from the prior year and down a staggering 56% since 2012.
“Financial stress on farm families is accelerating and reverberating throughout the Iowa economy,” says Iowa Farm Bureau’s director of research and commodity services, Dave Miller. “This is why Iowa Farm Bureau continues to offer members access to free marketing, tax and economic webinars, and support to help Iowa farmers find efficiencies and keep sustainable during this continued economic downturn.”
The stats book can be ordered for $12 from the Marketing and Communications Division, Iowa Farm Bureau, 5400 University Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50266. Checks should be made payable to Iowa Farm Bureau.
Source: USDA NASS and Iowa Farm Bureau