Building Sustainable Agriculture in Palo Alto County, Iowa

Thousands of years ago great glaciers subsided leaving the beautiful, rich soil found today in Palo Alto County. It is on these approximately 342,027 total acres of farmland that the primary crops of corn and soybeans grow.

Annual crop production stems from 160,000 acres of corn and 115,100 acres of soybeans per year with averages of 157.9 bushels of corn per acre and 49.7 bushels of soybeans per acre, according to Iowa State University Extension. Palo Alto County agribusinesses are increasingly interested in seeing local farmers add value to their product and to develop connections to larger markets.

Palo Alto County farmers produce abundant and plentiful crops. Livestock production is prevalent in the county with hogs, cattle, sheep, dairy cows, poultry and sheep.

785 farms dot the county's landscape. Palo Alto County farms are larger than the typical farm in Iowa averaging 436 acres, according to ISU Extension Service. While the age of the typical Iowa farmer is 57.4 years old, and 19.7% are under age 45, and 36.3% under the age of 55.

While over half of Palo Alto County farmers list farming as their primary occupation, 23.9% of farmers work 200 or more days off the farm in other careers. Many of the farmers own the land they farm; 51% are full owners; 36% are part owners, while 13% are tenants. Farms are predominantly owned by independent resident/owners.

Agribusinesses with worldwide name recognition are located in Palo Alto County, including Ag Processing Inc (AGP), AgriServices of Northern Iowa, Brownlee Management, Daybreak Foods, Standard Nutrition, MaxYield Cooperative,  POET Biorefining, Prairie States Management, Pro Cooperative, StateLine Cooperative, and Woodford Equipment.

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 Palo Alto County Farm Service Agency funds a variety of programs which totaled $35,202,002 in FY 2010.

For more information on Palo Alto County Agriculture

Visit the Palo Alto County Extension Office website: