Collaboration and Partnership Driving Innovation in Iowa Agriculture
By Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
Iowa’s farmers and rural communities have weathered a number of storms over the past few years. Mother Nature, the COVID-19 pandemic and volatility in trade and commodity markets have challenged our economy and infrastructure, but I continue to be amazed and inspired by the resilience and innovation that drives Iowans to not only survive a storm, but emerge stronger. This resilience is just one of the reasons I am excited about the future of agriculture in our state.
This week, we are celebrating National Ag Day on March 22, which recognizes the farmers, leaders, entrepreneurs and community leaders who are working every day to produce an affordable, nutritious food supply, renewable fuels, healthier animals, cleaner water and a better standard of living for Iowa families. Governor Kim Reynolds will also be recognizing March 21-27 as “Agriculture Innovation Week in Iowa.”
We have ambitious goals to improve productivity and efficiency of agriculture, while at the same time protecting our soil and water resources and building strong communities. The innovation needed to meet these goals can’t happen with individuals or organizations working alone: it takes collaboration and partnerships. Just like our communities come together to respond to challenges, our entire ag community is coming together in unique ways to meet challenges ahead.
Partnerships with organizations and municipalities are making progress toward improving water quality and sustainability by streamlining processes and providing resources to farmers, communities and landowners. Partnerships with the cities of Ames and Cedar Rapids will add dozens of new water quality practices this year in the South Skunk and Cedar River watersheds, all using science-based practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Partnerships with Polk County, the city of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works will provide equipment and resources for farmers in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds to expedite cover crop planting.
Here in America’s Cultivation Corridor, we’ve built partnerships and an ecosystem where new ideas can become a reality. Entrepreneurs find a welcoming community with accelerator programs, funding opportunities and support from forward-thinking farmers and livestock producers and global agribusiness leaders alike. Nowhere else in the world can entrepreneurs connect with so many leaders in all ag industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, food and grain processing, animal health, plant sciences, predictive agriculture, renewable fuels and more, not to mention world-class agriculture and bioscience researchers and facilities at Iowa State University.
In just the past 12 months, more than $1.3 billion has been invested in agricultural infrastructure through the State of Iowa, with more exciting things to come. These investments are evidence that business leaders see the value and opportunity of growing in Iowa.
While we are taking time this week to recognize the agricultural community and our state’s role as a global leader in ag innovation, we know that the work never stops. Every day, Iowa’s farmers, livestock producers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders are striving to build a more sustainable future for our state and our world.
Mike Naig grew up on a family farm near Cylinder in northwest Iowa, and continues to be involved in the operation today. Naig was elected as the 15th Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in November 2018, and previously served as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
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