Branstad, Northey say California drought opens Iowa opportunities


Gov. Terry Branstad and Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, tell Daily Times Herald that they’ve been having conversations with Iowa ag businesspeople about possible ways the Hawkeye State could take advantage of the increasingly desperate water problem facing California, one of the nations’ biggest agricultural regions.

Are there opportunities for Iowa?

“There’s already some movement of dairy to Iowa,” Branstad said. “And I think, considering the situation in California, the water problem, their tax and regulatory burdens, that kind of anti-agriculture sentiment that you see in that state, I would not be surprised if we’d see more of that movement here.”

Branstad said Iowa is a “very grow-agriculture” state.

The governor recently visited northern California to call on Facebook and Google. Another ag-business company Branstad met with during that trip complained that California is difficult for agricultural producers, the governor said.

Northey said the big opening for Iowa as a result of California’s water issues is with dairy.

“Certainly there have been California farms, with the dairy industry especially, they’ve been so big and successful in California, that have either had growth move out in the past—maybe it wasn’t around drought—but certainly could be around drought now and around feed production for those dairies,” Northey said. “I think we certainly could bring some dairies here from California because of those challenges.”

California is in its fourth year of severe drought. Projections aren’t great either, leading to water-use restrictions focused mainly in the cities.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the majority of California is experience extreme to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the state’s condition isn’t expected to improve in the near future.

The Drought Monitor, which collects data from 50 different weather indicators, has shown an increasingly red California since 2011, the last time the drought map was clear, The Times reports.


Courtesy of Douglas Burns, The Daily Times Herald 6/25/15.

Bill Northey California drought Governor Branstad Iowa opportunities Daily Times Herald

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