Being a lifelong Iowan and a farmer’s daughter, I admit I’m a little biased about our great state.  I love the people, the land, even (mostly) the changing weather.  Now, it seems I’m not alone.

A new report from U.S. News and World Report says Iowa is one of the Top 10 Best States in the Nation.  We rank sixth and even though the survey looked at more than 60 metrics, the survey claims it’s our strong agriculture base which deserves much of the cred.  Specifically, the U.S. News and World Report states:

“Iowa is a farm state. Hogs are Iowa’s leading source of income from livestock, followed by beef cattle – and Iowa raises more hogs than any other state. It’s a $4.2 billion industry. It’s also a leader in the production of milk, chicken and eggs. Iowa also leads the nation in corn-growing – providing 20 percent of the nation’s corn – and is a leader in soybean production.  It follows then that food processing is The Hawkeye State’s largest manufacturing industry. Iowa has one of the nation’s largest cereal mills – and the largest popcorn-processing plant. Machinery production – farm machinery and construction equipment and also home appliances – ranks second.”

Of course, coming from a farm, I already knew farming brings jobs to rural Iowa; one out of every five jobs, according to an economic study done in 2014.  And, since nearly 90 percent of Iowa farmers rely on off-farm jobs, more and more of them are tapping into the ‘can do’ entrepreneurial spirit, taking a great idea and, with a little help, growing it into a sustainable, profitable business of their own.  So, whether it’s fish farming, or creating a new business that helps their fellow farmers to measurably improve water quality by installing new conservation practices, they find a way to get it done.

You don’t need U.S. News and World Report to know that the nation’s love of pork is driving that success story for livestock farmers. Our state’s thriving pork industry is what leads to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.   The event is a salute to all things bacon, drawing thousands of pork fans to this state every year. 

As with any industry, not all farms are perfect.  But, as we approach National Ag Day, March 21, it’s time to celebrate agriculture, which put Iowa on the map.   Today, an overwhelming majority of Iowa farmers are doing it right or learning how to do it better.   And, isn’t that worth raising a glass for a toast?  If you want, you can even make it a craft beer, which, by the way, Iowa also wins national praise for having some of the best in the world!