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5 Facts About Iowa’s Farming History

I am always amazed by the calm and the sense of potential that looking at our local hills of fields can stir in me. (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black

 

Farming is a huge deal, not only within the Quad Cities, but for Iowa and Illinois at large.  Farming has a huge impact on the local economy of the Quad Cities with local jobs coming from actual working farms or other farm related areas and companies, such as John Deere.  If you’ve ever driven through any of Iowa, I’m sure you’ve noticed a ton of corn fields and soybean fields.

Sometimes when you are driving in the country, you just have to stop and appreciate the long open road! (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
Sometimes when you are driving in the country, you just have to stop and appreciate the long open road! (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black
Atizle was napping in the car for this photography session, however, the day was gorgeous and bright with a ton of cool clouds so I just couldn’t resist going for a drive through Bettendorf, Iowa’s country roads to check out some of the local farming fields, buildings, and equipment.

5 Facts About Iowa Farming

A fabulous source of information on the farming history of Iowa is the Living History Farms of Urbandale, Iowa, which is an interactive outdoor history museum devoted to educating and connecting people to the Midwestern rural life experiences.  Farming has been a part of this area’s history since the Ioway tribe began tending small gardens of corn, beans, and squash in the 1700s.  
I loved all the buildings on this Midwestern horse ranch (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
I loved all of the buildings on this Midwestern horse ranch (Bettendorf, Iowa). – Photograph by Adria Black

1. Iowa is #1 in corn, soybeans, pigs and eggs than any other state in the United States.

According to the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa grows more corn and soybeans than any other state in the country.  In addition, Iowa raises more pigs and produces more eggs than anywhere else in the country, as well.  Iowa also ranks #4 for cattle, #9 for turkeys, #10 for sheep and lambs, and #13 in milk production.

2. Iowa has approximately 88,000 farms

The Iowa Farm Bureau states that Iowa has approximately 88,000 farms and 129,000 farm operators, and more than 97% of Iowa farms are owned by Iowa families.

I am always amazed by the calm and the sense of potential that looking at our local hills of fields can stir in me. (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
I am always amazed by the calm and the sense of potential that looking at our local hills of fields can stir in me. (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black

3.  1 in 5 Iowans Work in Agriculture

Not only is farming itself a huge source of Iowa work, but Iowans also work in a ton of agricultural related fields.  This is also evident in the Quad Cities area, where John Deere is one of the largest employers in the area.  According to the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa agriculture and related industries contributed to 418,777 jobs in 2012, accounting for about 21% of total jobs in Iowa.

4. Iowa is the 5th Windiest State

The Washington Post published an article in 2014 that lists the top 5 windiest states in the United States.  The windiest state is Nebraska, followed by Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa.  Since Iowa’s wind is so strong, Iowa has been able to capitalize on this through wind energy.  Now Iowa farmers help generate more than 35% of its electricity through wind power, which is the best in the nation, according to the Iowa Farm Bureau.

A glimpse at all the machinery, equipment, and structures that make a working cattle farm. (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
A glimpse at all the machinery, equipment, and structures that make a working cattle farm. (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black

5. Iowa has farmed corn throughout it’s history

According to The Living History Farms of Urbandale, Iowa, the people of Iowa have been farming corn since the 1700s.  The Ioway tribe farmers began this tradition by farming corn, beans, and squash and would raise just enough to feed their families throughout the year.  Once the pioneer farmers arrived in the 1840s and 1850s, they began to farm corn, wheat, and potatoes.  The corn was used to feed the animals on the farm, while the wheat was sold to mills to make flour for bread.  Potatoes were a large part of the pioneers’ diet.  By the 1900s, farmers in Iowa were raising mainly corn, hay, and oats to feed the animals on the farms.  Soybeans also became a major crop for Iowa farmers around 1930.

A tractor and a row of haybales on a working farm in the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
A tractor and a row of haybales on a working farm in the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black

Farming has always been important to Iowa

So as you can see, farming is an important part of Iowa today, and has been vital throughout its long history.  I simply couldn’t continue with my project of Documenting the Quad Cities, without including this part of our area’s history and culture.

Here’s a few more photographs of local Bettendorf, Iowa farms:
The rolling fields of the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
The rolling fields of the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black
A cattle feed barn in Bettendorf, Iowa - Photograph by Adria Black
A cattle feed barn in Bettendorf, Iowa – Photograph by Adria Black
A grain silo in the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) - Photograph by Adria Black
A grain silo in the Midwest (Bettendorf, Iowa) – Photograph by Adria Black

These evergreen trees act as a wind break on a Bettendorf, Iowa farm - Photograph by Adria Black
These evergreen trees act as a windbreak on a Bettendorf, Iowa farm – Photograph by Adria Black
A grain silo in Bettendorf, Iowa - Photograph by Adria Black
A grain silo in Bettendorf, Iowa – Photograph by Adria Black
Hay bales along the side the country road in Bettendorf, Iowa - Photograph by Adria Black
Hay bales along the side the country road in Bettendorf, Iowa – Photograph by Adria Black

Did you learn any new facts about farming in Iowa?  Tell me in the comments below!  All of these prints are available for purchase at Society 6, simply click on any of the photos that you love and it will take you directly to purchasing options.

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