Report Details the Importance of Agriculture in the Iowa Economy

(Radio Iowa) Iowa is known for its many thousands of acres of fertile farmland which help to feed perhaps millions of people around the world, and a new report details just how valuable the agriculture industry is to the state. Brent Johnson, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, says the report just confirms what we already know, that agriculture is vital to our state’s economy and identity.

“Iowa has 326,000 jobs that are directly tied to agriculture,” Johnson says. “One in every five jobs in Iowa is dealing with agriculture, and as far as economic impact goes, $96.5 billion is directly tied to those jobs.” When that 96-and-a-half billion figure is trickled down to Main Street and other industries, he says it quickly more than doubles to nearly 222-billion dollars. Even through the past few years with the pandemic, Johnson says agriculture saw steady gains.

“The resilience in agriculture in any state, but specifically in Iowa, is very strong,” Johnson says. “Consistently, our numbers are high and growing. It really shows that the foundation is true, that it’s an industry that, regardless of what’s going on around it, it’s going to continue to move forward and be productive for the future.” A USDA study found that between 1948 and 2019, land use for agriculture decreased by 28-percent, while land productivity grew nearly four times, and labor productivity grew more than 10 times. Johnson says farmers are growing significantly more food on less land.

“To increase our bushels produced, or our pounds produced, and at the same time being more efficient with our inputs,” Johnson says, “the technology jobs are playing right into that, and helping farmers across the entire state achieve very high efficiency numbers.” Johnson, a fifth generation farmer in Calhoun County, says the organization continues to strive to find ways to help farmers adapt and improve.

“We’ve got a new program at the Iowa Farm Bureau, Acres of Opportunity, and for two years we’ve sold out that program,” Johnson says. “It’s really designed around niche farming and and what’s the entry point and how can these people begin farms and expand their current farms into new markets.” Nationwide, the report shows the U-S food and agriculture sector directly supports nearly 23-million jobs, provides 927-billion dollars in wages and contributes over eight-point-six trillion dollars to the U-S economy, a 22-percent increase since the 2019 report. The annual “Feeding the Economy” report is being released by 25 food and agriculture groups. See the full report at: