Top 10 Farm and Agriculture Facts – Iowa

Iowa's status as a farm and agriculture powerhouse is known worldwide. See why!


1) Iowa Agriculture: A National Leader

Iowa’s farms rank #1 nationally, producing more corn, pigs, eggs, ethanol, and biodiesel than any other state in the country.

Iowa also ranks #1 nationally in several conservation practices used to protect soil and water quality, such as water quality wetlands, bioreactors, grassed waterways, filter strips, buffer strips, pollinator habitat and conservation tillage.

More than 416,000 acres of wetlands have been restored thanks to Iowa’s farmers, and nearly 3.8 million acres of cover crops were planted in 2022 to protect Iowa’s soil and water. According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture (2022), Iowa ranks second nationally in cover crop acres. Learn more about how Iowa farm families protect the environment at ConservationCountsIowa.com.

Iowa Farmers are #1 in corn, pigs, eggs, ethanol

2) 2% of the U.S. Population Feeds All of Us

Farm and ranch families make up less than 2% of the U.S. population.

Thanks to innovation, technology and diverse farms, one U.S. farm feeds (on average) 172 people annually, in the U.S. and abroad. That’s an increase of 59% since 1980. 


Source: American Farm Bureau’s 2021 Food and Farm Facts booklet

family at farm with cows

3) Iowa's Family Farm Legacy

According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, Iowa has 86,911 farms and 157,531 farmers (an increase of more than 12,000 farmers from five years prior and 30,000 more than 20 years ago).  

Iowa’s family farm legacy spans generations! Since Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship began honoring Iowa families who have owned their farms for more than 100 years (in 1976), more than 21,000 Iowa farms have received Century Farm designations (for farms owned by the same family for at least 100 years) and more than 1,800 farms have received Heritage Farm designations (for farms owned by the same family for at least 150 years).

crowd holding up Century Farm award

4) Agriculture Employs Iowans

According to data from the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers' 2019 Iowa Agricultural Economic Contribution Study, one in five Iowans (20%) have jobs because of agriculture – totaling 399,631 jobs. 47% of those jobs result from animal agriculture/livestock farming.

Agriculture accounts for $22.2 billion in Iowa household income.

To see agriculture’s impact on your local economy, visit the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers’ Iowa Ag Intel site.

Iowa Agriculture Intel Infographic

5) Sustainable Livestock Farms

U.S. livestock farmers are providing more with less of an environmental impact – improving farm sustainability. Since 1990:

  • U.S. farmers have grown pork production by 80%, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per pig by 25%.
  • U.S. farmers have grown beef production by 23%, while reducing GHG emissions per cow by 15%.
  • U.S. farmers have grown milk production by 53%, while reducing GHG emissions per glass of milk by 26%.
  • US Pork Production
  • US Beef Production
  • US Milk Production

Additionally, cattle play an important role in farm sustainability. Cattle have a unique ruminant digestive system that enables them to consume plant material that is inedible to humans – such as grasses, corn stalks, cottonseed hulls, ethanol byproducts and more. Their ability to “upcycle” these byproducts and graze land that isn’t suitable for other purposes (like growing crops) reduces waste and protects environmentally sensitive land.


6) Sustainable Crop Farms

U.S. crop farmers are growing more using fewer resources on fewer acres thanks to innovation and technology. 

In 1990, U.S. farmers would have needed 100 million more acres to match the amount of corn, soybeans and other crops farmers grow today.



7) Ethanol and Renewable Energy

Iowa ranks #1 nationally in ethanol and biodiesel, producing more than any other state in the country.  

The use of ethanol and biodiesel in the U.S. reduces GHG emissions by 95 million metric tons, an amount that’s equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road.

Ethanol and Biodiesel reduce greenhouse gas emissions

8) Iowans Trust Farmers

According to the 2023 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, conducted by The Harris Poll:

  • 93% of Iowa grocery shoppers trust Iowa farmers
  • 88% are confident that Iowa farmers are caring for their animals responsibly
  • 81% are confident Iowa farmers care for the environment responsibly


9) Locally Grown

When making food purchases, 33% of Iowa grocery shoppers are looking for a “grown or raised by Iowa family farmers” label, and Iowa’s farmers are stepping up to meet that need!


In 2022, 2,427 Iowa farms sold agricultural products directly to consumers. The value of those sales increased by 51%, compared to 2017.

Direct-to-consumer ag products

10) Iowa's Diverse Farms

Yes, Iowa’s farms lead the nation in corn, pigs and eggs, but there’s so much more! Look around and you’ll see that Iowa's farmers are growing and raising everything from flowers and mushrooms to goats and Scottish Highland cattle! 

Some 200 farmers markets in Iowa provide shoppers with fresh, locally-grown produce and a variety of other products, ranging from eggs and meat to wine and cheese. 

Iowa is also home to roughly 300 commercial vineyards and 100 licensed wineries.

flower farmer in Iowa

Learn more about farming and your food!

  • The Farm Fresh Blog introduces you to the people who provide your food, fuel and fiber and the issues they face.
  • The Iowa Dish is an e-newsletter that will spark your curiosity about how our food is grown and raised.
  • See how farmers embrace science and technology to protect our land and water at ConservationCountsIowa.com.
  • Learn about the care livestock farmers take to ensure the health and comfort of their animals at IowaAnimalFarmCare.org.
  • See how farmers provide us with meat, milk and eggs that meet our nutritional needs, while using sustainable practices and caring for their animals at RealFarmersRealFoodRealMeat.com.
  • Learn how the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation is teaching students about the significance of farming and agriculture - in their lives and around the world.


Learn more about Iowa Farm Bureau - agriculture's champion and defender