Building Sustainable Agriculture in Kossuth County Iowa
Thousands of years ago great glaciers subsided leaving the beautiful, rich soil found today in Kossuth County. It is on these approximately 601,517 total acres of farmland that the primary crops of corn and soybeans grow. Annual crop production stems from 338,488 acres of corn and 202,196 acres of soybeans per year with averages of 149 bushels of corn per acre and 44 bushels of soybeans per acre, according to Iowa State University Extension. Kossuth County agribusinesses are increasingly interested in seeing local farmers add value to their product and to develop connections to larger markets. Kossuth County farmers produce abundant and plentiful crops. Livestock production is prevalent in the county with hogs, cattle, sheep, dairy cows, poultry and sheep.
1,395 farms dot the county's landscape. Kossuth County farms are larger than the typical farm in Iowa averaging 431 acres, according to ISU Extension Service. While the age of the typical Iowa farmer is well over age 50, 39% of farmers in Kossuth County are under the age of 45. While over half of Kossuth County farmers list farming as their primary occupation, 22% of farmers work 200 or more days off the farm in other careers. Many of the farmers own the land they farm; 29% are full owners; 45% are part owners, while 26% are tenants. Farms are predominantly owned by independent resident/owners.
Agribusinesses with worldwide name recognition are located in Kossuth County. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. boasts a seed corn production plant and a separate research facility. Hormel Foods Corporation is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded meat and food products with a pepperoni production facility located in Algona. Hormel Foods has a reputation for high quality products made in Kossuth County and at other company facilities throughout the United States. Pioneer and Hormel are both located on the outskirts of Algona. Green Plains Lakota, a division of Green Plains Renewable Energy, uses 35 million bushels of corn annually. Green Plains Lakota is a 100 MGY ethanol plant and is a public traded company on NASDAQ.
In addition to revenue produced through farming, our local economy is impacted by the programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Kossuth County Farm Service Agency (KCFSA) funds a variety of programs which totaled $35,202,002 in FY 2010.
Kossuth County has a new agriculture and motorsports museum located on the Kossuth County Fairgrounds at 800 East Fair Street (Hwy 169 South), Algona, IA. The Kossuth County Agriculture & Motorsports Museum is open Sunday’s from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 ages 6 to 12, children under 5 years old are free. A museum meeting room is also available to rent for meetings and receptions.