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Iowa Corn Growers Association
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No, Really, Iowa’s Farms are Almost Entirely Family Owned

March 9, 2017

There is a popular myth out there that today’s modern food production system is being run by corporations or industrialized agriculture. But, the truth is that much of our food is grown and raised on farms by families. Iowa has roughly 88,000 farms and 129,000 farm operators. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than 97 percent of Iowa farms are owned by families.

“The stigma of the “factory farm” or “Big Ag” is something we hear all the time,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “I believe it’s important for consumers to understand that the vast majority of farms in the United States like mine are family owned and operated.”

Larry, his wife Mary and his son are involved in the farming operation where they raise corn and soybeans. He has been farming for 40 years. “It’s true, Iowa’s farmers make a living growing crops and raising livestock on our family farms which is why it’s important for us to provide the best possible care. For us, it’s not just a business, but a way of life.”

And Iowa is not alone. Of the 2.1 million farms in the United States recorded in 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 97 percent were family-owned operations with the average farm size of 434 acres. One might believe that the size of the farm dictates if a farm is family owned, but 88 percent of all U.S. farms are small family farms, with less than $350,000 in gross cash farm income, and nearly 9 percent are midsize or large family farms.

“Many of our farms are set up as Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), similar to small businesses across the United States. LLCs are established more for tax reasons, and are owned by a few family members involved in the operation,” stated Klever.

Not only does the average American farm feed about 168 people worldwide, but one in five Iowans go to work because of agriculture. Iowa agriculture and ag-related industries supported 418,777 jobs in 2012, accounting for 21 percent of total jobs in Iowa and 17 percent of household income.

Here are five great things family farms bring to our state:

1.       The money our farm businesses make are mostly spent within our communities. We live, work and raise our children here. We support other local businesses and keeping our rural communities thriving. Click here to watch a video about the Blair family who supports their local communities while raising their children on their farm in Dayton, Iowa.

2.       We use technology to be more efficient and farm smarter. - Click here to see how the Ross family of Minden, Iowa embraces technology to improve their operation.

3.       We care about our farm and the environment. We focus on improving the water, soil, air and habitat on our farms and the next generation. - Click here to hear how Mark Recker of Arlington and his family preserve his land and the state’s water quality.

4.       We take pride in the food we produce. We want to provide the highest quality and safest food for our families’ and yours. - Click here to meet Dean Meyers and his sons who are passionate about producing the best possible food on their family farm in Rock Rapids, Iowa. 

5.       We are committed to sustainability so that the land is here for future generations. - Click here to meet the Bell family as they prepare their twin daughters to pursue careers to someday take over the farm.


The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is a 7,500-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.




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