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Iowa State University Extension

Bioeconomy not a cure-all, Iowa farmers say

J. Arbuckle

“Iowa farmers are not looking at the bioeconomy as ‘the answer,’” according to ISU Extension sociologist J. Arbuckle. Nevertheless, their responses to the 2007 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll indicate “farmers have great hopes for the bioeconomy, but they also have practical concerns.” Voicing opinions on a range of potential social and economic impacts associated with the growing bioeconomy, farmers show a definite mix of optimism, pragmatism and uncertainty, Arbuckle said.

Concerns range from whether removal of corn stover for ethanol production would increase soil erosion to whether they could trust farm organizations, farm magazines and environmental organizations as accurate sources of ethanol information.

Other results included the following:
• 86 percent agree that moving Iowa toward energy independence is a worthy goal.
• 84 percent believe that Iowa should become a leader in producing biodegradable corn-based products.
• 77 percent agree that Iowa should lead the nation in bioeconomy-related research and innovation.
• 75 percent agree that biofuels research should not come at the expense of traditional agricultural research.

Arbuckle notes that the Farm Poll data complement the information ISU Extension gathered from Iowans during community conversations on the bioeconomy last spring.

“Much of the opinion data from Iowa farmers is consistent with what was said during the community conversations,” Arbuckle said. “We are comparing our quantitative data to the information from the local conversations, and are drafting a report that ISU Extension can use for further discussion with stakeholders.”

For more information contact Arbuckle,

This article appeared in November 2007 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter