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Report Provides Vision of Potential Growth

There is excellent potential for growth of Iowa’s animal food systems, resulting in more jobs and higher cash receipts, says a new report from Iowa State University (ISU).

“Development through animal agriculture is a logical and exciting avenue to grow Iowa’s rural economies,” says Wendy Wintersteen, dean of ISU’s College of Agriculture. “Our animal agriculture industry is favorably located geographically, in an area of competitive advantage for feed ingredients and has cropping systems that are compatible for manure utilization.”

ISU’s Department of Animal Science conducted a year-long study evaluating the current status of animal agriculture and growth opportunities.

Iowa has the land resources to expand livestock and poultry production, says Maynard Hogberg, department chair and professor of animal science.

“Think about a diversified crop-livestock farm that feeds all the crops grown on the farm and sells only livestock or poultry products,” Hogberg says. “More labor is needed to care for the animals and value is added to the crops that are converted to higher value animal proteins. The farm would purchase less commercial fertilizer because the manure nutrients would meet most of the crop needs.”

ISU’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development estimated the number of hog or cattle finishing spaces needed to fertilize crops per section of cropland. Based on sound agronomic practices and environmental regulations, researchers suggested if Iowa’s 36,000 sections of cropland were planted in a corn-corn-soybean rotation under a phosphorus standard, it would require all the hogs and 80% of the fed cattle produced in the United States to generate adequate nutrients for the crops.

Iowa produces about 26% of the nation’s hogs and 6% of fed cattle inventories. “Clearly, Iowa has the land resources to expand animal agriculture,” says Hogberg. “Issues of concentration and environmental impacts exist, and those will continue to be addressed.”

In the report, John Lawrence, professor of economics and director of the Iowa Beef Center, studied growth potential for animal species.

“Cash receipts from animal agriculture in 2005 were nearly $7.9 billion in Iowa and represented 53% of all agriculture receipts,” he says. “The targeted growth outlined in this report would lead to an increase of $2 billion in cash receipts from animal agriculture over the next decade.”

The report suggests a 15% increase in Iowa’s swine breeding herd, a 10% rise in finishing pigs, an increase of 50% in fed cattle marketings and a 10% growth in beef cowherds.

Lawrence says the impact of these potential increases on jobs and economic activity is impressive. “The growth of Iowa’s animal agriculture offers traditional partners an increased demand for Iowa grains, supplies, capital, energy, labor and consumables. It also has the potential to add jobs in other areas. Nearly 10,000 new jobs, both direct and indirect, would be created if the growth projections outlined in this report were reached. Plus, cash receipts would be $9.075 billion and total economic activity would be $21.2 billion.”

The report can be accessed at or by calling (515) 294-2160.