Although Iowa is known especially for corn and soybeans, we know that the volume of animal agriculture in Iowa drives demand for these oil seeds and grains. As a result of Iowa having some of the most productive soil in the world, there are, in turn, 448 FDA approved medicated and non-medicated feed mills in place to process all of the grain and oil seed production into animal feed. The bottom line is with all of the animal agriculture the demand for a nearby source for feed stuffs is high.

In Iowa, you are never more than 15-20 minutes from a feed mill. In 2016 Iowa had more than 56 million animal units in the state. Each animal unit (AU) is 1,000 pounds of animal, therefore, there are likely more than triple or quadruple that number for individual animals within Iowa, depending on the share of production that goes to each species. For every one of the 3.1 million people in Iowa, there are 17.9 animal units, that is 17,900 pounds of animal per person. Each feed mill provides technical jobs and feeds thousands of animals both near and far, while also sustaining many farmer’s feed supply chains.

Figure Note: Each dot represents the central point of a zip code, the color of the dot indicates the number of feed mills that share the same zip code.

Preston Lyman is a Research Analyst with Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS). DIS is an Iowa-Based economic research firm which provides regular farm economics research and analysis to the Iowa Farm Bureau staff and members.