A new report says agriculture and agricultural sciences are poised to drive economic growth and job creation to new heights, fueled by research and Extension support of land-grant universities like Iowa State University (ISU).

The report, “Power and Promise: Agbioscience in the North Central United States,” was prepared for 12 north-central land-grant universities, including ISU, by Batelle, a Columbus, OH, research and development group. Agbiosciences spur widespread innovations, technologies and solutions to real-world needs in food security, human health, economic development and environmental sustainability.

World-class university-based agricultural experiment stations and Extension Services, along with the north-central regions’ record of agricultural productivity, are critical assets, according to Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State.

“The report makes it abundantly clear that land-grant universities are core institutions to address national and global needs in agricultural productivity, food security, human health and environmental quality,” she says.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says: “This report confirms what I have been seeing around the state, that agriculture and agricultural sciences are a key economic driver in Iowa. It is vital that we have the education system in place so that we have the employees equipped to take advantage of the opportunities available.”

The 12 states of the north-central region comprise 21% of the nation’s land mass, but represent:

  • Forty-five percent of the nation’s agricultural exports (Iowa is second nationally in agricultural exports, valued at more than $7 billion);
  • Eighty percent of U.S. soybean and feedgrain production;
  • Forty-five percent of U.S. livestock exports;
  • Ten of the top 25 U.S. food manufacturers;
  • Ninety percent of the nation’s ethanol production; and
  • Several of the world’s largest seed companies and agricultural equipment manufacturers.

The economic development opportunities are immense, Wintersteen says.

“The issues addressed by agricultural sciences are strategic to the nation,” she says. “That’s why the report emphasizes expanded support for agbioscience research and Extension at national and state levels. In challenging budget times, funding support is critical to maintaining and expanding U.S. leadership in agriculture and agricultural sciences.”

The “Power and Promise: Agbioscience in the North Central United States” full report and executive summary can be found at http://nccea.org/documents/powerandpromiseweb.pdf

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