Sunday, January 20, 2008

Agricultural Realignment

Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture and former president of the Iowa Corn Grower's Association is pleased with the way the state's agricultural industry is headed. Bill Northey says that he "sees optimism grow" in those that are involved in agriculture in the state and points to a renewed attraction for younger people to take over the family farm as they grow older. Northey credits ethanol demand and a weak dollar for spurring exports and allowing the price of grain to climb to all-time highs (31% rise in corn prices and 86% rise in soybean prices from 2006 to 2007). This is great news for Iowa and the Midwest, where only a few short years ago the talk was all about how quickly farmers, and especially their children, were fleeing farms for the towns in Iowa or the cities in surrounding states. The fact was that farming in the 90's and early 21st century was a gamble that was making break-even profits at best. Although input costs such as nitrogen fertilizer and diesel have risen along with grain prices, the excitement that this time in agriculture is bringing to the Midwest seems to be the shot in the arm that the industry and the state needed. Hopefully, this trend can continue without a serious freefall in prices back to previous levels. For those of you who are not from the Midwest thinking that this is an issue simply for "those hicks" out in Iowa, think again. Profitable agriculture allows for prices to moderate and should eventually allow the United States Congress to lower subsidy payments to farmers, which would save money in the federal budget. The fact of the matter is that although some subsidy payments are still needed, you would be hard pressed to find a respectable family farmer in Iowa that wouldn't have supported Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Tom Harkin's push a few months ago in the Senate to limit subsidy payments to farms at less than $250,000 per year.

Iowans want the steady and sustained growth of the family farm without the encroachment of commercial agriculture into our state. Hopefully this recent round of excitement in the industry will give the chance for this dream to be passed on to one more generation, and allow Iowa to be filled with "fields of opportunity."

I encourage those that are interested to read the article and interview with Bill Northey in the Des Moines Register. He has several good points including the renewed effort that Iowa must undertake in order to ensure that conservation efforts are not lost in this new era of excitement in farming.

A beautiful seen of the Iowa countryside with same corn fields in the fore-ground.

For the original article, please follow the link below:

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