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With its cluster of farming, industry leaders such as DuPont Pioneer and John Deere, and a large land-grant university, central Iowa is already a hub of economic activity centered on agriculture and bioscience. But state, local, business and university leaders believe the region still has much untapped potential.

Their response: Join together on a new Cultivation Corridor initiative, which creates new partnerships among regional leaders in economic development, education and bioscience and aims to market central Iowa as the home of“science that feeds the world.”

If successful, the initiative will also help grow the entire Iowa economy by drawing new investments to the state and attracting and retaining talent and business.

Stateline Midwest ~ April 2013

For young people, the high cost of getting into farming can be a daunting business proposition. The cost of farmland continues to rise (up more than 20 percent year-over-year in the Midwest), as do expenses related to everything from equipment and fuel to feed and fertilizer.

Such obstacles are often cited as one reason for the aging population of farmers. Between 1982 and 2007, federal data show, the average age rose from 50 to 58, while the percentage of principal farm operators with less than 10 years of experience fell 42 percent.

In the Midwest, varying types of financial-assistance programs are used to help a new generation of agricultural producers get started, and some lawmakers (due in part to current market and demographic trends) have been looking at ways to expand these initiatives.

As Americans remember the events and veterans of December 7, 1941 today, another organization seeks to help our service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent USA Today article highlighted the work of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. The national coalition “seeks to help our returning veterans find employment, training and places to heal on America’s farms.”

Here is legislation reviewed by CSG’s Committee on Suggested State Legislation about agricultural operations and sustainable agriculture; a program to help disabled farmers; and a master farmer program to help farmers reduce the environmental impact of their farming operations.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act creates the “Nonimmigrant Agricultural Seasonal Worker Pilot Program” in the state department of labor. The purpose of the program is to expedite the federal H-2A Visa certification process to enable eligible workers to come to the state legally to meet the staffing needs of farmers and ranchers in the state.