Livestock growth preserves domestic soybean demand, bolsters Iowa economy11/27/2018 | Livestock, Soybean News, Economics
Lauren Houska, ISA communications specialist
Inside a newly-constructed pig barn near Melbourne, visitors could hardly tell it was a cold and windy November day. Jordan Vansice, a fifth-generation farmer who will manage the new Iowa Select Farms wean-to-finish site with his family, and other Iowa Select employees welcomed the public into the barn.
Vansice was excited to showcase the many benefits of livestock growth and the care and commitment of Iowa pig farmers. He hoped to educate visitors about raising pigs while celebrating bringing pig farming back into the family farming operation.
“I take a lot of pride in what my grandparents started,” Vansice said. “I want to make sure I am doing things right on all fronts, and that includes being transparent with the community.”
Pigs raised on the 4,800-head farm will consume about 470 acres of soybeans each year, according to Iowa Select. As an industry in Iowa, pig farming creates demand for one-fifth of the state’s soybean crop.
Iowa soybean farmers are wrapping up what is expected to be another record soybean harvest. Amid low soybean prices, livestock growth is vitally important in strengthening domestic demand now and into the future.
However, erecting a new barn is not an easy feat. According to Iowa Select’s site development expert Darrell Hunt, four out of ten farmers hoping to build a new pig barn aren’t able to move forward due to significant roadblocks such as rules, regulations and neighbor relations.
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) is a non-profit group that helps farmers navigate the maze of state and federal regulations regarding livestock.
“Our farmer leaders and staff recognize that growth in livestock production is a top-priority affecting the continued profitability of soybean growers,” said Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) CEO Kirk Leeds.
“That’s why the ISA was a founding member of CSIF back in 2004 and why we continue to support the organization’s efforts to assist Iowa’s farm families in raising livestock responsibly and successfully.”
CSIF also helps livestock farmers take steps to foster positive neighbor relations through the Green Farmstead Partner Program. With the help of 19 nursery professionals around the state, the initiative provides guidance to farmers who want to plant trees and shrubbery as windbreaks to reduce livestock odors.
Iowa Select is a Green Farmstead Partner and now plants trees on all new company-owned finishing farms. Since May, more than 2,000 trees have been planted on Iowa Select sites alone.
Vansice knows first-hand how important neighbor relations are to farmers looking to expand with livestock. One of his neighbors signed off on a separation distance waiver in order for the barn to be built in the most ideal location. Several others spoke at the public hearing on his behalf and on behalf of the economic importance of the pork industry in Iowa.
“I’m very appreciative of how supportive my neighbors have been,” he said. “I can see how important the partnership between CSIF and Iowa Select is, and it’s pretty attractive to see organizations teaming up to do work that benefits everyone.”
And Vansice truly means everyone — farmers aren’t the only people who benefit from livestock growth.
Livestock growth effectively offsets — and even reverses — the economic decline in rural counties, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. Agriculturally-dependent counties that miss out on livestock growth also miss out on almost $17 million of potential income.
Through tax collections, income growth and increased local spending, the pork industry has a $10.89 billion impact on the state of Iowa. According to Hayes, that equals more than $3,300 in economic benefit for every Iowan.
“Iowa soybean farmers can’t afford any additional demand set-backs,” Leeds stressed. “And looking at the bigger agricultural picture, Iowa can’t afford to miss out on these revenue growth opportunities. Responsible livestock growth is incredibly important to all Iowans.”
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