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USDA report shows Iowa’s ag production on the rise

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:18 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:31 a.m. CDT
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture showed that agriculture was on the rise in Iowa. Shown here are farm lands in rural Jasper County.

In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, and the report showed Iowa remains one of the nation’s top ag producing states.

While this news should come as no surprise to Iowans, it has to be a welcome sight to many of the state’s farmers. Iowa farmers have faced a number of obstacles since the 2007 report — legislative hang-up with the Farm Bill, drought, yo-yoing commodity prices, shrinking numbers in farm land and number of farms — but Iowa moved up in rank in a number of categories in the 2012 report.

According to the 2012 report, Iowa is now currently ranked third in the U.S. in total number of farms with 88,631, second in total agriculture sales with nearly $31 billion in sales, second in crop sales with $17.3 billion sold and second in livestock sales with $13.45 billion in sales.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey stated how pleased he was with the state’s growth in a recent release.

“The impact of Iowa’s agriculture industry is tremendous, and it continues to grow,” Northey said.  “The growth over the last five years is a testament to the hard work, creativity and persistence of our farmers.  Even with the recent softening of commodity prices, Iowa agriculture is well positioned to continue to be a key driver of the state’s economy.”

Unlike the population census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years, the ag census is conducted every five years by USDA.

The 2012 report also showed the average age of an Iowa farmer is 57.1 years old and the national average was 58.3 years old. It also showed 81,528 of Iowa’s 88,631 farmers were men, which showed a decrease of more than 1,300 women farmers in Iowa since 2007.

The full 2012 census report is available online at: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Preliminary_Report/Full_Report.pdf.

USDA won’t release state and county specific data until sometime in May of this year.

The 2007 census listed Jasper County at having the fourth-highest valued crops in the state, 49th in total livestock value and 27th in total agriculture production.