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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Mar 20, 2008

If you didn’t already know it, today is National Agriculture Day in the United States. The week of March 16-22 is also known as National Agriculture Week.

It’s probably no coincidence that National Agriculture Day comes on the first day of spring. As the last winter snows melt, farmers are itching to get out into the field and get to work.

About a year ago, a challenge was made to Iowa farmers to increase their corn acres to meet the growing corn demand for ethanol production. Not only did they meet that demand — they exceeded it.

Another challenge comes again this year. That challenge is to meet the demand not only for Iowa’s growing ethanol and pork industries, but to also meet the unexpectedly growing demand of other countries for corn and soybeans. It’s all really part of a strange turnaround in our national economic picture.

While plummeting housing prices (due to risky subprime loans) are wreaking havoc with the real estate market throughout most of the country, for the most part, Iowa is weathering the storm pretty well. People here are smart enough to not borrow more money than they can pay back. They’re also smart enough to know how to read a loan contract that allows for variable rates.

Ironically, Iowa is benefitting from a weak dollar because foreign countries are buying our (relatively speaking) cheap corn and beans. So, while things are sliding down a slippery slope for people elsewhere, the Iowa farmer is making a profit.

And there’s not a darned thing wrong with that.

After weathering the ag crisis of the 1980s, Iowa farmers more than deserve this new turn of events. Hopefully, inputs will stay within the realm of reality and farmers can have another banner year in 2008.

This is the golden age of agriculture, particularly as Iowa finds itself leading the way in producing and developing new alternative fuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The future of our national security lies right here in Iowa.

Hopefully, our national policy makers will see the light and continue to support alternative fuels development in the areas of ethanol (particularly biomass such as switchgrass), biodiesel, and wind energy.

Iowa farmers have proven they can meet the challenge. Now let Washington have the character and intelligence to let them do it.