The Iowa Beef Center based at Iowa State University recently conducted an economic impact study on the state’s beef industry. Center director Dan Loy says the industry has been gaining ground here in the last decade. “In the early 1980’s there was a significant loss of cattle feeding numbers in Iowa to the plains states,” Loy says, “but in the last ten years, we’ve seen a gradual steady increase of market share for cattle on feed numbers moving from the Southern Plains to the Upper Midwest.”
He says the a resurgence is due in part to the growing ethanol industry and better competitiveness with the an abundance of ethanol by-products to feed to cattle. “But then in addition to that, I think an increase demand for high quality beef is something we’ve seen nationwide. Iowa certainly backs up its reputation as a state that produces a significant number of high quality beef,” according to Loy.
Loy worked with Agricultural Economist Lee Schultz and determined the state’s beef industry is responsible for generating $6.3 billion in revenue for the state. “Its certainly important to the state of Iowa. It ranks among the major commodities, and in northwest Iowa, interestingly — Sioux and Lyon county alone …beef resents approximately a one billion dollars of economic activity there,” Loy says.
He says the industry is responsible for around 32,000 jobs. “Those are the direct jobs, or direct and indirect for both the cattle and slaughter and processing,” Loy says, “but it doesn’t include the jobs that are created by cattle marketed outside the state of Iowa. About 75 percent of the cattle are marketed outside the state of Iowa. We send a lot of cattle to Nebraska and a lot of cattle to Illinois as well.”
Loy says consumer demand for beef been on the rise again in both the domestic market, and the international export trade. He says check-off dollars spent on the “Beef, its what’s for dinner” campaign has assisted with that increase of demand for beef.
(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)