Animal agriculture long has been an economic driver for Iowa’s rural communities. A new report developed at Iowa State University shows there's excellent potential for the state’s animal-food systems to grow. This, of course would result in more jobs and higher cash receipts.

“Development through animal agriculture is a logical and exciting avenue to grow Iowa’s rural economies,” says Wendy Wintersteen, dean of Iowa State’s agriculture college. “Our animal agriculture industry is favorably located-- having a competitive advantage for feed ingredients and has cropping systems that are compatible for manure utilization.”

Iowa State’s Animal Science Department conducted a year-long vision exercise to evaluate animal agriculture's current status and growth opportunities. It involved about 40 industry representatives and ended with reports for beef, dairy, equine, pork, poultry and sheep/goats.

Maynard Hogberg, animal science department chair, says the report shows that Iowa has the land resources to increase livestock and poultry production. “Think about a diversified crop-livestock farm that feeds all crops grown on the farm and sells only livestock or poultry products,” he 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.”

Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development evaluated the number of hog or cattle finishing spaces needed to fertilize crops per section of cropland. Using sound agronomic practices and environmental regulations, researchers determined if Iowa’s 36,000 sections of cropland were planted in a corn/corn/soybean rotation under a phosphorus standard, it would take all the hogs and 80 percent of the fed cattle in the United States to generate adequate nutrients for the state's crops.
Iowa currently has about 26 percent of the nation’s hogs and 6 percent of fed cattle inventories. “Clearly, Iowa has the land resources to expand animal agriculture,” Hogberg notes. “Issues of concentration and environmental impacts exist, and but those will continue to be addressed.”

John Lawrence, economics professor and Iowa Beef Center director, studied and reported on the growth potential for the animal species. “Cash receipts from animal agriculture in 2005 were nearly $7.9 billion in Iowa and represented 53 percent 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 fed cattle marketings have the potential to increase 50 percent by 2016, with a 10 percent growth in beef cowherds. A 50 percent increase in milk production through increased productivity and cow numbers is projected.
The report also suggests a 15 percent increase in Iowa’s swine breeding herd and a 10 percent increase in finishing pigs, a 37 percent increase in laying hens, a 40 percent increase in turkeys, a 20 percent increase in horses, a 160 percent increase in goats and the addition of 50,000 ewes to the state’s sheep flocks.

“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,” says Lawrence. “Nearly 10,000 new jobs-- direct and indirect-- would be created if the growth projections outlined in this report are reached. Plus, cash receipts would be $9.705 billion and total economic activity would be $21.2 billion.”

As the individual species reports were developed, central themes surfaced. The final report — “A Vision for Iowa Animal Agriculture” — includes nine key messages that cut across all animal species.

One of those is that Iowa’s bio-based industry offers advantages to animal agriculture. “It’s essential for livestock's role in Iowa’s emerging bio-economy be defined,” says Hogberg. “Additional research is needed to find ways to use the byproducts more effectively in animal diets and to find alternative energy sources or feedstuffs for swine and poultry.

Other key messages are:

Iowa has the capacity to increase all animal agriculture species grown in the state.

The economic impact of increasing Iowa's animal-agriculture sector is tremendous.

Adding value offers some of the greatest opportunities for growing Iowa’s animal-agriculture industry.
Implementation of information-driven, consumer-focused quality control programs for each species is critical.

Iowa’s animal-agriculture industry must protect the state’s water, air and soil.

An adequate labor supply is needed to grow Iowa’s animal-agriculture industry.

Innovative business models and support networks that will help producers manage risk and attract new capital are needed.

Iowa State University will play a key role in future growth of the state’s animal-agriculture industry.

 Follow this link to read the report (PDF file) or call (515) 294-2160.

Source: Iowa State University