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Iowa Ag Trade Bounces Back but Sustained Success Depends on Smart River Infrastructure & Smart Regulatory Policy

February 1, 2021   Des Moines Register (Opinion)

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Rep. Hinson & Sec. Naig in the Des Moines Register: "Iowa Ag Trade Bounces Back but Sustained Success Depends on Smart River Infrastructure & Smart Regulatory Policy"

February 1, 2021

In The News

Recently released data demonstrates Iowa agricultural trade is bouncing back. After years of tough negotiating — and even amid the unforeseeable impacts of COVID-19 — global markets are recovering and more Iowa products are moving from our farms to tables around the world.


New markets are embracing Iowa products at record levels. In the first three quarters of 2020 alone, Iowa food and agriculture exports grew by 4.3% in overseas markets, driven by increased demand for Iowa corn, meat, and soybeans. For example, Iowa exports to China surged to $1.08 billion, a 41% year-over-year increase. Japan boosted Iowa agriculture purchases to $935 million in the same timeframe. Iowa farmers have managed to overcome challenge after challenge before demand rebounded.


While these recent trade successes are encouraging, more must be done to level the playing field for Iowa farmers and allow Iowa agriculture to expand into new markets. This includes maintaining a reasonable regulatory environment, implementing pro-growth tax policies, and investing in critical infrastructure projects. The Biden administration should seek input from farmers across the heartland — the farmers who have worked around the clock to feed and fuel Americans and the world during the COVID-19 pandemic — as they lay out new policy plans.


Modern waterway infrastructure helps Iowa farmers efficiently send products to ports for shipment around the world. Unfortunately, much of the river infrastructure along the Mississippi has been neglected and desperately needs an upgrade. Without these investments, foreign competitors, like Brazil, will be able to further encroach on Iowa’s export market share. There are multiple projects across Iowa that are primed for federal investment, including Dubuque’s Lock and Dam #11, that will ensure Iowa farmers have reliable access to export options.                       


When it comes to the environment, Iowans know that agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a leading solution in driving down emissions and improving land stewardship. Through historic conservation efforts, Iowa farms are sequestering carbon, improving soil health, and moving forward with a culture of conservation that leaders of all parties can support.


Iowa’s farming community works day in and day out to put food on kitchen tables in the United States and around the world. In 2020, it became clear that Iowa agriculture is more resilient than ever imagined, as Iowa farmers stepped up to maintain a safe and reliable food supply chain amid the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This grit, combined with prudent policy and aggressive partnerships at the federal level, will continue to ensure our food and agriculture community are well positioned to capitalize on new market opportunities and remain a strong player on the world stage.


Mike Naig is Iowa secretary of agriculture. Ashley Hinson represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in Congress.…