There’s been a lot of discussion recently about a growing rural-urban divide in Iowa. But you have to wonder why there’s any divide at all, when economic interests of Iowa rural and urban areas are so intertwined.
Proof to that comes from a new study commissioned by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) and done by Decision Innovation Solutions. It found that farming and ag-related industries accounted for one in five jobs in the state in 2017. And quite a few of those jobs are in Iowa’s most urban counties.
Indeed, the CSIF study showed that the counties with the most ag-related jobs (defined in the study as jobs that either produce crops or livestock, doing the first round of processing of farm production or other ag supporting industries) are many of Iowa’s most populated. Polk County led the list, with 25,062 ag-related jobs. It was followed by Black Hawk with only a few less at 25,034 and Linn with 24,605. The next two largest were Woodbury at 19,120 ag-related jobs and Pottawattamie at 12,538.
It’s no surprise that there are lots of ag-related jobs in Iowa’s urban counties. Just look around at the grain processing plants in Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs. Waterloo has both farm equipment manufacturing and meat processing, and Sioux City has a new pork processing plant.
In Des Moines, where I live, the ag-related jobs are a little harder to spot, but there are plenty of jobs processing crops and livestock and supporting Iowa’s agriculture.
The bottom line is that all of Iowa has a big stake in agriculture’s success.