Why Iowa? Five Questions with Steve Elmore
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Why Iowa? Five Questions with Steve Elmore


Steve Elmore

Corteva Agriscience

Steve Elmore, Chief Economist, Corteva Agriscience 

In his role as chief economist at Corteva Agriscience, Steve Elmore interacts with farmers around the world about the factors that drive profitability and productivity.   

He grew up on a farm in central Nebraska that has been in his family for more than 130 years.  He earned degrees at the University of Nebraska and completed a research fellowship at Texas A&M University before coming to Iowa to conduct research at Iowa State University.   

Elmore also serves as a facilitator for Cultivo® Virtual Academy, providing insights to international scaleups on economic and business environments we are currently working with. By foreshadowing the future environment, entrepreneurs can better decide the timing that works best for their business model.  

1. What are the key drivers for the global ag economy, and how have they evolved over the years?  

I joined Pioneer, now Corteva Agriscience, just over 25 years ago. Much has changed during that time but much has stayed the same. I’ve travelled, presented and had discussions on every continent except Antarctica – and farmers everywhere want to drive operational productivity to achieve a better lifestyle for their family. I’m so happy that I work for a company that shares those values – a company that started in Iowa nearly a century ago and now has worldwide impact on millions, if not billions, of people. Farmers who use our seed and crop protection products drive productivity to meet their financial goals; supply consumers with quality food, feed, fuel and fiber products; and meet societal demands to use fewer natural resources.   

In 2024, farmers will continue to drive productivity in sustainable ways. The caution for all of us is related to trade. Two wars are impacting the distribution of ag production. For exporters, trade disruptions hurt local farmers’ prices. For importers, it has the potential to decrease food security for many people.  

2. What brought you to Iowa? Why have you stayed? 

I came to Iowa because Iowa State University offered me the best opportunity after completing my graduate degree. 

The universities I attended were great but when people ask me where I was educated, I always say Iowa State University. They hired me right out of graduate school to do research on agriculture economics of domestic and trade policy. Our center did major research for the U.S. Administration and Congress, the United Nations and other countries. Our analysis helped change the U.S. Farm Policy, the WTO and NAFTA. It was accelerating every day. We had researchers that came from institutions in Mexico, Argentina, India, Australia, Egypt, the Baltics and Canada to work with those who were educated at Iowa State University to solve major food problems facing consumers and farmers worldwide. It was an open and collaborative experience.  

I met my wife here and we have raised two sons in Iowa. The great public and private school education has allowed them to grow and develop in meaningful ways.   

I have now lived in Iowa more than half of my life. It is a welcoming and diverse place that provides opportunities for many. The people of Iowa embrace cultural diversity and grow to respect others as they look for their own unique growth opportunities.   

3. What are the key things that international scaleup companies need to know when expanding into the U.S. market?  

The intellectual property rights and respect for the law is key to any company being able to succeed. The U.S. has a strong business culture around those.  Iowa is positive for new businesses. People in Iowa hold great admiration for people who have a great work ethic. We have a highly educated and experienced workforce. The State of Iowa also has many opportunities outside of work that allows employees to have a balanced life. 

4. What advice do you have for someone considering a move or return to Iowa? 

Look hard at the opportunities in Iowa – it truly has something for everyone. You just need to do some research to find what Iowa has that meets what you are looking for. Companies can really develop a workforce with the diversity that matches the culture of the company coming to Iowa.   

5. Please share three recommendations of things to do or places to go in Iowa. 

My family loves to attend Broadway musicals and the symphony at the Des Moines Civic Center. We enjoy the outdoor farmers’ market in downtown Des Moines and the renowned Des Moines Arts Festival.  

One can also see the pageantry of world-class athletes at Drake University, the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University almost every week. When you layer in semi-professional sports, your free time could be booked if you so choose.  

Finally, the location of Iowa is unique. We do not have family in Iowa, but we have enjoyed many easy weekend driving trips to Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. It’s also easy to jump on a direct flight to Denver to see family there.  

Published March 2024. 

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