Iowa received approximately 130% of its normal rainfall and was cooler than usual 10 months out of the 12 months in 2008. The state's crop and livestock farmers persevered through these difficult weather conditions – along with volatile markets and rising land, fertilizer and energy expenses – and achieved record results, according to the recently-released 2009 Iowa Agricultural Statistics booklet.
While both corn and soybean production dipped in 2008, Iowa harvested its third largest corn crop ever and continued to lead the nation in corn, soybean, hog and egg production. In fact, hog and egg numbers reached record highs in 2008, despite shrinking profits and red ink. Iowa raises nearly 30% of the nation's hogs.
"The resiliency of Iowa's farmers in 2008 was truly amazing, but these are very trying times for our state's farm families, especially farmers hit hard by last year's flooding and those who raise livestock. Dairy, beef and pork growers are all losing money now," says Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang.
These are very trying times for livestock producers
"In 2009 hog farmers are losing around $20 per pig, beef producers have lost $120 per head over the past year, dairy farmers have lost $3 to $5 per hundredweight of milk on average this year, and unfortunately some are facing liquidation. To add to these challenges, corn farmers aren't making money when the market is under $4 per bushel, due to historically high energy, land and fertilizer costs," says Lang. The 2009 booklet shows that farm expenses in Iowa have doubled over the last decade.
The new report does offer a few bright spots. In both 2007 and 2008 there were more than 92,000 farms in Iowa, the most since the year 2000. Hog, egg and dairy production rose slightly, while cattle, sheep and lamb production dropped slightly. Iowa maintained its status as 7th in the nation in cattle production.
Information in the 158-page book is compiled by Iowa Agricultural Statistics, a division of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The book consists of six sections: general information, county data, crops, livestock, economic data and results from the 2007 Census of Agriculture. It also lists several ag-related websites on the back cover.
Iowa Farm Bureau publishes the book for Iowa Agricultural Statistics. No public funds are used to publish the book. The book costs $11 and can be ordered from the Marketing and Communications Division, Iowa Farm Bureau, 5400 University Avenue, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266. Checks should be made payable to the Iowa Farm Bureau.