AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Beef Industry Council, partially funded through the $0.50-per-head Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program, commissioned an economic impact report by partnering with Iowa State University to conduct the study. Additional partners instrumental to Iowa’s economic beef industry assessment included Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and the Iowa Area Development Group. In an effort to fully understand and illustrate the economic impact Iowa’s beef industry has on the state, the analysis included both economic activity generated and the opportunities for growth.
Size and Demographics
Iowa is home to almost 28,000 cattle operations, and as of Jan. 1, 2017, was home to an estimated 3.85 million cattle and calves. In addition, Iowa has more feedlots and more cattle feeders than any other state. In 2016, Iowa marketed 1.76 million fed cattle, and more than 395,000 fed cattle were estimated to be harvested and processed in the state.
Contribution to the Economy
In 2016, Iowa’s beef industry generated an estimated $6.30 billion of economic activity in the state of which $4.09 billion was the result of direct spending by the industry. While there are harvest facilities within the state’s borders, the majority of Iowa’s cattle (almost 75%) are harvested outside the state in neighboring states like Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kansas.
Contribution to Iowa’s Employment
Iowa’s beef industry supported an estimated 32,317 jobs in 2016. Of this, the industry directly employed 19,528 people. There are cattle production total economic impacts determined for all of Iowa’s counties, which highlights animal agriculture continues to be a valuable asset for jobs that ultimately grow communities.
Opportunities for Growth
Iowa’s beef industry has ample feed availability and land availability for feeding cattle and nutrient application. The availability of quality feed and water demonstrates Iowa’s commitment to sustainability efforts. Of Iowa’s annual corn production, 3% is directly fed to Iowa cattle. This highlights that Iowa produces adequate grain and feedstuffs for additional growth in the beef industry. Currently, pasture availability is a limiting factor for expanding Iowa’s cow-calf industry, and thus, expansion will require shifts in land use or improved efficiencies.
Iowa is a volume supplier of high quality beef for domestic and international markets. The challenge is a lack of processing capacity for beef in the state that limits the economic contribution to Iowa. Future growth will require programs that foster transition to a well-trained, new generation and continued adoption of sustainable efforts to improve stewardship.
For the full report and additional county specific data refer to www.iabeef.org
— Iowa Beef Industry Council
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