As Iowa farmers get into the thick of harvest, some may still be feeling the impact of 2020, a year marked by a pandemic and derecho that caused widespread crop damage and affected the 2021 growing season. The 2021 Iowa Agricultural Statistics, a comprehensive data overview by Iowa’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) office and released by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), highlights these challenges. 

Nationwide, 2020 saw a record year for red meat processing with Iowa leading the way at almost 9 billion pounds of red meat. Despite supply chain disruptions, this was a 336-million-pound increase over the prior year. However, Iowa’s cattle and hog producers saw a decrease of $1.6 billion in cash receipts according to the report, down to $10.6 billion. 

“This data bears out that 2020 was a challenging year for many Iowa farmers. It was a year marred with a public health pandemic and derecho that spurred difficult times financially for farmers – especially those who struggled to market hogs and cattle,” says Dr. Sam Funk, IFBF director of agriculture analytics and research.

In the grain sector, 2020 saw the U.S. poised for record exports in corn and soybeans at start of the 2020/21 marketing year. China made record purchases of U.S. corn and displayed very strong demand for U.S. soy in 2020/21 which resulted in tighter stocks of these grains which supported strong crop prices in 2021. 

“Last fall, we started to see a large-scale pull internationally for our corn and soybeans, but it really took off this year. Soy exports started strong last fall and continued the entire 2020-21 marketing year setting a new record,” says Dr. Funk. “Corn exports began strong in the fall of 2020 but ramped-up even further midway through the 2020-21 marketing year to also set an all-time record level of exports.” 

The statistical summary showed Iowa agriculture as a leader producing many commodities including corn, hogs and eggs. Sheep inventory saw an increase of 9,000 head overall from the previous year, and Iowa ranked fourth in cattle on feed. 

The $12 stats book can be ordered from the Marketing and Communications Division, Iowa Farm Bureau, 5400 University Avenue, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266. Checks should be made payable to the Iowa Farm Bureau.