September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Northey visits Iowa Dairy Center

Bill Northey, <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
Bill Northey, <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

By by Kelli Boylen- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

CALMAR, Iowa - "Iowa is agriculture. Even to some of us in agriculture, we can forget how important ag is for Iowa - this is a special place. Agriculture does the best job of turning the economic engine of this state," said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
Northey spoke at Iowa's Dairy Center earlier this month about the importance of agriculture to the region, and Iowa's impact on the world. The event was cooperatively sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Community College Foundation and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation to raise awareness and the need for funding for new NICC signature agriculture programs, including ones that focus on dairy robotics, beef science and veterinary science.
Northey said if Iowa was a country, it would rank fourth in the world in corn and soybean crop production, only ranking  behind the United States, China and Brazil (ranking first, second and third, respectively). With 14 million acres of corn produced in Iowa, the state produces more tons of grain than Canada's 30 million acres of wheat, barley and corn combined.
He also cited the 2012 study, Iowa's Dairy Industry: An Economic Review, stating that the total economic impact per dairy cow in Iowa is $23,445.
"We don't always have a sense of our importance," said Northey to the approximately 70 people who had gathered to hear him speak.  He remarked that Iowa has one of the strongest economies in the nation due to the amount of agriculture monies that cycle through the state.
The Secretary also noted that from 2002-2012, the Iowa's agricultural crop and livestock production jumped from $12 billion to $30 billion annually.
Northey added that although agriculture is very important to the state economically, it is also very important culturally. Since the century farm designation was created in 1976, more than 17,000 Iowa farms have been recognized as being in the same family for more than 100 years. Many farms have also been recognized as heritage farms, which honors the farms which have stayed in the same family for at least 150 years. "Every one of those farms has a story of how it stayed in the family," he observed.
Secretary Northey touched on the fact that feeding the world in the future is definitely going to be an issue due to growing population. 
To continue the success of agriculture, in bad years and good ones, communities in the state need to provide support and resources to community colleges, dairy science and high school ag programs, particularly for young people. "Education is very, very important to Iowans, so thank you for your support of this institution (NICC and the Dairy Center), and other institutions cross the state," Northey said.
NICC President Liang Chee Wee concluded the event with a presentation emphasizing how collaboration between educators, state government, students, families, farm producers and consumers serve the important purpose of keeping young people involved in agriculture education and staying in Iowa.
"We need to work together - NICC, Secretary Northey and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation - to keep our young people here in Iowa," said President Wee. "Our commitment to agriculture at NICC is real, and this particular facility, Iowa's Dairy Center, does what farming itself is about - to feed the world and leave a legacy," he said.
A recent addition to the Dairy Center includes a necropsy lab and an analysis lab which can be used by students in the large animal vet tech program. Also, construction is just starting to get underway for adding robotic milkers which will be used on part of the teaching herd at the college. Tunnel ventilation in the freestall barn and sand mattresses for the cows are also major parts of the project.  Visitors and students will be able to view cows being milked in the existing parlor as well as the robots, and they will able to observe cows in the freestall barn.
Construction on the $1.7 million project is expected to begin shortly and students who begin in the dairy science program at NICC this fall will be the first classes to incorporate robotics.[[In-content Ad]]


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