An Iowa State University report concludes there’ll be significant growth in Iowa’s livestock industry, as long as corn prices remain reasonable. For the past year, researchers in I-S-U’s Department of Animal Science and representatives of livestock groups have been evaluating the state’s “animal agriculture” industries — beef, pork, dairy, pork, poultry, sheep, goats and horses.
I-S-U animal science professor Maynard Hogberg says Iowa currently has about 26 percent of the nation?s hogs and six percent of the beef cattle in the country. “I think one of the things we were trying to do was say ‘O.K.: what is the picture really like of the future?'” Hogberg says. “Depending on who you talk to, you could get one extreme to the other and our feeling was that we were trying arrive at more of a consensus viewpoint of where we thought things would end up.”
The I-S-U study concludes beef cattle sales have the potential to increase 50 percent by 2016. Hogberg says one reason for that prediction is because one of the rather inexpensive by-products from ethanol production is fed to cattle.
“Right now, we have one of the lowest feed costs in the country,” Hogberg says. In addition, the report suggests that in 10 years the number of swine in the state will grow by 15 percent. But the most significant growth is predicted in the poultry industry.
The I-S-U analysis concludes the number of hens in Iowa laying hens will increase at least 37 percent within 10 years, and there’ll be a 40 percent increase in the number of turkeys raised in Iowa, too. “The egg industry has been growing significantly (in Iowa) over the last 10 years,” Hogberg says.
That’s a complete turn-around for the poultry industry in Iowa. In 1958, Iowa was the number one egg-producing state in the nation, but because of the increased cost of transporting eggs from Iowa to the nation’s metropolitan areas, hen-laying operations sprung up in many other states. What has now helped Iowa regain ground in the industry is the advent of on-the-farm egg-cracking facilities. That means mostly raw eggs are now shipped in tanker trucks, instead of individual eggs in cartons.
Hogberg says the uncertainty ahead for the livestock industry depends largely on the ethanol industry. “That is…kind of a wild card because we don’t know the impact the bioeconomy’s going to have on the eggs and pork systems because eventually they’re going to compete for an energy or starch or energy feed-stuffs,” Hogberg says. It means livestock farmers will be trying to buy the same corn that ethanol plants are trying to buy, driving up the price of corn perhaps beyond what’s profitable for those segments of the livestock industry.
The report shows Iowa farmers earned nearly eight-billion dollars in 2005 from the sale of eggs and livestock. If the report’s predictions are on target, Iowa farmers would reap another two billion on top of that in livestock sales — and 10-thousand new jobs would be created.