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Soybeans are big business in Iowa | News, Sports, Jobs

by Stella Morgan

Title: The Importance of Soybean Cultivation: A Vital Crop for Iowa’s Economy


Soybeans have a rich history, dating back three millennia in China. Today, their cultivation holds immense significance for Iowa’s economy and plays a pivotal role in various industries, including food production, health products, biodiesel, and ink manufacturing. This article aims to shed light on the importance of soybean cultivation in Iowa.

A Long-standing Crop

Chinese records from the 11th century document the growth of soybeans, indicating a lengthy history of domestication. By the 1760s, soybean seeds had made their way to Georgia, marking the introduction of soybeans into North America. This versatile crop has since become a staple in numerous industries worldwide.

Iowa’s Soybean Production

Iowa is a key player in soybean production, ranking second only to Illinois. The state’s farmers harvested an impressive 587 million bushels of soybeans in 2022, accounting for 14.2 percent of the nation’s total supply. The Iowa Soybean Association estimates that soybean farming contributes approximately $11.5 billion to Iowa’s economy each year.

Contributing to the U.S. Trade Picture

The sale of Iowa-grown soybeans to foreign clients is a significant positive contribution to the U.S. trade market. Amongst all countries, China is the largest importer of Iowa soybeans. Given China’s status as the most populous country globally, this commercial relationship holds immense value. Selling soybeans to the Chinese market has enduring importance and offers tremendous opportunities for Iowa farmers.

Iowa’s Role in Biodiesel Production

Iowa’s renewable fuels industry, particularly the biodiesel segment, has tremendous potential. Soybean farmers play a vital role in this evolving economic sector, positioning Iowa as a leader in biodiesel production. According to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the state’s 11 biodiesel plants produced a staggering 349 million gallons of fuel in 2022, making Iowa the top producer.


Soybean cultivation plays a vital role in Iowa’s economy, with the state ranking second in production nationwide. Beyond the food industry, soybeans contribute to diverse sectors, such as health products, biodiesel production, and ink manufacturing. The strong commercial relationship between Iowa and China ensures a steady market for soybeans, given China’s significant population. Furthermore, Iowa’s position as a leader in biodiesel production highlights the crucial role soybean farmers play in the state’s renewable fuels industry. Overall, soybean cultivation remains a cornerstone for Iowa’s economy and presents promising opportunities for future growth.

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