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Iowa farmer faces challenges during pandemic

Iowa farmers have faced unprecedented challenges ranging from historic flooding and trade restrictions to the coronavirus pandemic. As 2021 unfolds, what does the future hold for the agriculture industry? An economics professor and dairy farmer open up.
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:38:35-05

HONEY CREEK, Ia. (KMTV) — Doe's and Diva's Dairy Inc. is a family-owned operation in Honey Creek well-known for its array of cheeses. But co-owner Janna Feldman said she has seen her business drop off tremendously. Their income has dropped about 75%.

"We decided that we didn't have enough money to fulfill the permits that we needed, so we decided to reduce operations and we're no longer producing cheese," Feldman said.

The farm has a reduced flock of animals and is still producing milk. Still, Feldman is finding ways to keep business afloat.

"I'm producing soaps and lotions with the milk and I'm sharing them and producing yarn and selling things that don't require federal permits," Feldman said.

Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss says the challenges Feldman faces are not unheard of in the industry.

"The thing that farmers face that most of us don't face is extreme volatility and factors outside their control," Goss said.

Still, he has the utmost faith in farmers' futures.

"There's no other farmer on the face of the earth — none — that can compete with our farming in terms of productivity and then the infrastructure that we have, getting those products to the market, getting them to the East coast or West coast or to New Orleans for export," Goss said.

Resiliency, Feldman believes, is how farmers can move past all the hurdles and get back to doing what they love best.

"If you can get past some of the struggles, and look for the joy that it actually gives you, there's nothing better," Feldman said.

Goss expects 2021 to be a reasonably good year for the agriculture sector since commodity prices will move ahead — it's now a good time to sell grain and beef. As for Feldman, she will be looking for federal help to keep business going.