By Madeline Schultz | December 8, 2022
Laura Cunningham is a 2022 Women Impacting Ag Honoree. She operates SkyView Farms with her husband, Aaron, and young son, Wyatt, in Floyd County.
Laura’s focus on the farm is raising spring and fall Angus cow/calf pairs. She spearheaded a project to add a hoop barn to the farming operation and doubled the herd size. The couple received a grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and worked with ISU Extension and Outreach to create a “food hub” that includes pork, poultry and eggs sourced from other area farms, as well as their direct-to-consumer beef. Laura markets 50% of the beef direct-to-consumer with the remainder going to a regional packer. Laura was instrumental in integrating reduced-tillage practices and rye cover crops used for feed. She manages the farm finances as well as the grain marketing.
Laura is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS in Agricultural Business, where she says she learned the importance of networking and bringing groups together to learn. She joined the ISU Curtiss League of Awesomeness to help with recruitment.
While serving on the Iowa Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Committee, Laura worked with ISU Extension to bring more young farmers to local programs. Most recently, Laura attended a Women in Ag calving clinic hosted by Mitchell County Extension. Laura is a past Floyd County 4-H'er and plans to share those experiences in the future with her son.
Laura served as the chair of the state Farm Bureau Young Farmer Advisory Committee and was a 2020 recipient of the Young Farmer Leadership Award. In 2019, Laura was selected to represent the United States in the Transatlantic Dialogue Consumer Engagement Study Trip to Germany. She also served on the Iowa USDA Farm Service Agency committee helping to review issues and advise state staff on program applications; as well as represented the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association on the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture’s Butchery Innovation Task Force where she worked with others in the Iowa meat industry to identify ways to increase regional meat processing capacity and access the workforce.
Laura’s passion for ag literacy stemmed from her grandfather who was a teacher and chartered the first FFA Chapter at Rockford Senior High in 1950. In 2019, Laura started Central Springs AgEd Boosters, a local 501c3 organization, to increase ag literacy in her local school district and community. The organization’s current focus is raising $400,000 to start and sustain an all-new agriculture curriculum and charter an FFA chapter at Central Springs High School.
She volunteers through Ag in the Classroom to do Farm Chats with elementary school students, giving them virtual tours of her farm. Laura also helps other farmers learn from her experiences and recently held an open house in partnership with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers to share insight into the benefits of calving barns. Laura has long been a proponent of women in leadership and is a past presenter for the Women in Ag Leadership Conference and a Common Ground advocate, a group of Iowa women working to connect with consumers to increase trust in farming practices and food.
When speaking on all of her leadership experiences and involvement at the 2022 Women in Ag Leadership Conference, Laura shared, "Step up to the table. You never know what is going to happen."