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September 1st, 2010

Branstad Ready to Grow Iowa’s Agricultural Economy

During the Farm Progress Show in Boone today, Gov. Branstad outlined his goals for growing Iowa’s agricultural economy.

Branstad noted that agriculture is in the business of nourishing bodies and a major engine for job creation and economic growth.  In 1983, with Iowa in the depth of an agricultural recession, its 115,000 farmers produced economic value of $1.98 billion on 33.7 million acres of farmland.  Today, Iowa’s 92,600 farmers are producing crops and livestock on 30.8 million acres.

“In 2008, this engine of economic growth created $26.3 billion in agriculture production value in the state,” said Branstad. “Currently, increased federal and state regulatory actions have created an environment non-supportive of increased productivity, innovation and job creation.  The lack of regulatory stability is driving business out of the state and causing those who remain to limit or eliminate additional investment in their businesses and employees.”

Gov. Branstad’s proposal includes:

1.       Better use of current resources through technology and partnerships

2.       Responsible regulation

3.       Sustainable Entrepreneurship

4.       A Five-Year Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan

““In order to move agriculture forward we must address and develop a plan to enhance and invest in infrastructure state wide which will allow us to better transmit, handle, store, transport and transfer the increased production of agricultural crops, renewables, energy and value-added products,” said Branstad.

The Branstad Plan

GOAL

Iowa will lead the world in agriculture, doubling production of our crops and value-added products while increasing personal income, creating value and creating jobs.

DEFINING THE CHALLENGE

With the world population approaching 9 billion, we must double food production by 20501. As a world agriculture leader, Iowa must double our own production to feed Iowans and people around the world. Iowa’s agricultural system will be challenged to produce more with less in a manner that protects our natural resources of land, water and people.

Agriculture is in the business of nourishing bodies and a major engine for job creation and economic growth.    In 1983, with Iowa in the depth of an agricultural recession, its 115,000 farmers produced economic value of $1.98 billion on 33.7 million acres of farmland. Today, Iowa’s 92,600 farmers are producing crops and livestock on 30.8 million acres.2 While the number of farmers and acres dedicated to agricultural production has declined, Iowa’s farmers have never been more productive. In 2008, this engine of economic growth created $26.3 billion in agriculture production value in the state.3 Currently, increased federal and state regulatory actions have created an environment non-supportive of increased productivity, innovation and job creation. The lack of regulatory stability is driving business out of the state and causing those who remain to limit or eliminate additional investment in their businesses and employees.

In order to move agriculture forward we must address and develop a plan to enhance and invest in infrastructure state wide which will allow us to better transmit, handle, store, transport and transfer the increased production of agricultural crops, renewables, energy and value-added products.

DEFINING THE SOLUTION

Iowa agriculture will lead the state back in our economic recovery. As a world leader in agricultural production, a whole- system approach is needed once again to double our production of food and value-added products by 2050. Governor Branstad will work with the best and brightest agricultural minds in Iowa to create and implement a Five-Year Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for agriculture that will incorporate research and development, technology utilization, a stable and responsible regulatory system and create an enhanced infrastructure system. This system will better handle, store, transport and transfer the increased production of agricultural crops, renewables, energy and value-added products across the state and the world.

Agriculture is about growing jobs. Utilizing Iowa’s geographic strategic advantage, it is imperative that we work closely with universities and community colleges as they educate the next generation who will manage the ag production system from the farms to manufacturing to processing. It is necessary to support the research needed to develop and discover technology that will allow agriculture to continue as a great economic driver. Access to technology allows farmers to do well and do good – using science and technology to respond to the agricultural challenge to produce more while protecting our environment and maximizing Iowa’s natural resources. We must create a regulatory system that is science-based, responsible and stable to support a business climate that doubles agricultural production.
Governor Branstad understands the importance of creating an environment that supports and nourishes an entrepreneurial spirit that will create jobs and increase a family’s income while creating value. One of Iowa’s greatest attributes has been the ability to cultivate an individual’s talents and apply them to new technologies that will ultimately feed, fuel and clothe a growing global population. Creating and supporting an attitude and atmosphere that respects people who take risks and exhibit self-responsibility begins at the top and must be encouraged at every level.

GOVERNOR BRANSTAD PROPOSES

Better use of current resources through technology and partnerships.

  • Iowa agriculture is a success story of modernization. That modernization is fueled by technology and ingenuity, something in which we must continue to support and invest. In addition to better seeds and better livestock, technology offers and supports better management practices to protect our land and natural resources.
  • Partnerships between universities, community colleges and private businesses must be encouraged and supported. Government’s role is to aid– and in some cases–get out of the way so innovation and technology will grow and not be strangled.
  • There is growing demand among Iowa’s small town and urban people to buy food that’s grown close to home, close enough that they can get to know the farm families who produce it. This trend produces a gateway to farming for young people with more labor than capital available, an entrepreneurial opportunity for farm and restaurant enterprises, an increase in ag-related jobs, and an increase in quality of life for Iowans in general.

Responsible regulation

Provide a better balance of regulation v. job creation

  • A stable regulatory environment supports and enhances job creation and a growing business climate. A farmer / businessman should have confidence that a regulation will not change in 18 months or two weeks. When the environment is stable, people are willing to invest in jobs and business investment for growth. Responsible, stable regulation will not strangle growth, but incent it.

Expedite and clarify the regulatory process

  • A concise, transparent, science-based regulatory permit process is imperative for an active and successful business climate.
  • There is a need to expedite the permitting process for agriculture production if all science-based criteria have been met.

Remove the ‘gotcha mentality’ of regulatory process.

  • This is a regulatory leadership issue. Create an atmosphere that respects and supports people who take risks and exhibit self-responsibility. Governor Branstad supports and will demand an attitude change that emphasizes a ‘how can we help’ mentality rather than a focus of looking for problems first, while at the same time supporting a fair and responsible business environment.

Reduce unnecessary environmental litigation

  • Excessive environmental litigation adds risks and costs for production agriculture and hinders growth and job creation. It creates delays in everything from building a new road or bridge, siting a new ethanol plant or preventing new ag products from coming to market even though the safety of the products have never been questioned.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

  • Inspired, charismatic leadership is required to create a business climate that incents, supports, and celebrates those who have a vision, are willing to take a risk and create new jobs and production opportunities.
  • A culture that supports the creation of jobs, creates value and creates wealth by raising family incomes is the engine for growth.
  • Partner with business leaders and innovators, community colleges and university resources to create an easily-accessed mentoring corps and to support an Iowa entrepreneurial business climate.
  • Iowa must continue to support and enhance agriculture opportunities that offer a direct link to consumers and add economic and social value. Iowa-based businesses such as wineries, dairies, cheese makers, and ‘pick your own’ orchards and gardens are springing up all over Iowa. We must also support and encourage agri-tourism opportunities like farmers’ markets, autumn corn mazes and other season- specific opportunities where consumers have direct contact with producers.

Five-Year Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan

  • Governor Branstad will provide the leadership needed to bring together the best minds to develop a Five-Year Strategic and Implementation Plan for agriculture. This plan will address systems to better handle, store, transport and transfer the increased production of agricultural crops, renewables, energy and value-added products. Infrastructure systems such as rail line opportunities, road systems for the transportation of grain, the transmission of wind power, and increasing broadband capability should be considered.
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The Iowa Republican





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