Iowa Agriculture Continues to Lead Nation

But the state's agriculture also faces some increasing challenges.

High commodity prices are being chased by rising input expenses, but Iowa continues to rank among the leading states in national agriculture production, according to the recently released "2008 Facts on Iowa Agriculture" reference book. This annual report is generated by Iowa Farm Bureau, in association with the Iowa Agricultural Statistics agency and Iowa State University.

Iowa led the nation in corn, soybean, hog and egg production in 2007, the report shows. Iowa ranked sixth in oats, seventh in all cattle, eighth in hay, ninth in sheep and lambs, 10th in turkeys raised and 12th in milk production. That output came from Iowa's 88,400 farms, which average 356 acres in size.

Commodity prices were on the rise in 2007. Corn ($3.37 per bushel) and eggs ($.77 per dozen) saw prices rise for the second straight year. Soybeans ($7.78 per bushel), beef cattle ($90.56 per cwt.), lambs ($94.67 per cwt.) and milk ($19.13 per cwt.) rebounded from price drops in 2006. Hog prices stayed relatively constant, rising to $48.44 per cwt., after price drops in 2005 and 2006.

Commodity prices jump, but so do input costs

Accompanying these commodity price increases were jumps in input costs such as land. In 2007, Iowa's land value spiked 22%, to $3,908 per acre, the largest annual jump since 1976. Land prices have risen 88% over the past five years, benefiting current owners, but tightening the margin for renters and beginning farmers.

Net income and other input expenses have not been released for 2007, but the report does provide those numbers for 2006. Increased expenses in 2006, including livestock purchase, seed, fertilizer, fuel and oil, depreciation and property taxes/fees, contributed to a second consecutive drop in annual net income, to $36,962. Despite that drop in income, Iowa agriculture's debt to asset ratio was 11.4% in 2006.

The "Facts on Iowa Agriculture" booklet also provides information on other areas, including national figures, agribusiness, renewable energy and conservation efforts in Iowa. For example, the amount of Iowa land in wetland restoration rose by nearly 4,000 acres, to 136,999 total acres, from 2006 to 2007. Single copies of the "2008 Facts on Iowa Agriculture" are available at no cost from the Iowa Farm Bureau, Marketing and Communications Division, 5400 University Ave., West Des Moines, Iowa 50266. Multiple copies are available for $3 per copy.

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