How is this number even possible? I started doing some research about farming in Iowa when I came across this information and somehow the math doesn't seem to add up for me. I had a few co-workers check this information with me, just to make sure I wasn't completely off base or if I drank too much coffee today and wasn't thinking straight. How are there this many farm operations in the state of Iowa when the population of Iowa is only a little over 3 million people?

Unsplash - James Baltz
Unsplash - James Baltz

I do have to admit, I don't know jack squat about farming. I grew up and lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the vast majority of my life. I know as much about farming as I do calculus, and I never took calculus... I have family members on my mom and dad's side, who farm in various parts of Minnesota, and I've only ever been to those farms to visit.

After googling "how many farm operations are in Iowa", I was having a hard time believing the number all of these different websites were giving me. Let's start by defining what a "farm operation" is.

Farm Operation - according to Law Insider, "any activity conducted solely or primarily for the production of one or more agricultural products or commodities, including timber, for sale or home use, and customarily producing such products or commodities in sufficient quantity to be capable of contributing materially to the operator's support."

Okay... sounds great. This still doesn't really help much in believing there are this many farm operations in Iowa. Maybe I'm not doing a good enough job of factoring in smaller farms. Maybe I need to start picturing more hobby farms into the equation. This number still seems crazy to me.

Farm Operations In Iowa

According to NASS USDA, there are 84,900 farm operations in Iowa, with 30,500,000 acres being operated. Almost 85,000?! How? I also checked with Morning Ag Clips, Living History Farms, and Iowa Corn because this number is just hard for me to fathom. All of these sources have close to the same number of farm operations in Iowa. Some of those sites have a higher number of farms but there has sadly been a decrease in farm operations in Iowa over the years but it appears that number checks out.

If I had to save my life by guessing the number of farm operations in Iowa, I would've been a goner, before doing this research. My city kid is showing as I would've probably guessed a number like 15,000. Without knowing this number what would your guess have been on the number of farm operations in Iowa? If you would've said 85,000, I'm calling B.S.

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