Today is the day the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan was delivered to the state legislature. A bipartisan request was presented last year that stated: “To the extent feasible, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture established pursuant to section 266.39 shall prepare a local food and farm plan containing policy and funding recommendations for supporting and expanding local food systems and for assessing and overcoming obstacles necessary to increase locally grown food production.”
It’s a rather remarkable request from the legislature. The report was released today and you can find the report on the Leopold Center webs site. I helped write part of the introductory section, and my favorite few paragraphs of the introduction that place the report in a historical context are copied from the report below.
Iowa’s soils are among the most productive in the world, and are considered to be one of the state’s most important natural resources. Through a fortuitous combination of geological history, abundant rainfall, and hard-working farmers, Iowa offers an agriculturally productive environment that few places on earth can match.
More than 30.8 million acres are devoted to agriculture in Iowa, which accounts for 86 percent of the state’s land area. Iowa ranks first nationally in corn, soybean, hog, and egg production. In 2009, Iowa farmers produced agricultural products worth $24.3 billion dollars, and exported 26 percent of these products around the world. In addition to its contribution to the economy, agriculture plays an important role in the cultural and social fabric of the state. County and state fairs, farm toy museums and historical farm re-enactments offer Iowans a chance to celebrate and explore their state’s agricultural heritage. Many Iowans also honor their agrarian traditions through antique power shows, “barn quilts,” the recognition of heritage and century farms, and restoration and tours of historic barns. Agricultural events like the World Pork Expo, Cattle Congress, and World Food Prize Symposium attract many out-of-state and international visitors to Iowa.
Poised as it is on the cusp of all things agricultural, Iowa has led the nation, and sometimes the world, in agricultural innovation. Iowa was the first state to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act in designating Iowa State University as the nation’s first land grant university. The nation’s first tractor factory set up shop in Charles City, and agricultural innovator George Washington Carver is a prominent Iowa State alum and food pioneer. Henry Wallace, the inventor of hybrid seed corn and founder of Pioneer Seed Company, traces his roots to Adair County. Cresco native Norman Borlaug started “the green revolution,” and Grant Wood found artistic fame depicting Iowa’s agricultural heritage.