HuyserBy Chad Huyser, President, Lely North America — 

Editor’s Note: This was originally published by The Oskalooska Herald. 

Perhaps no industry is more synonymous with the Hawkeye State than agriculture. From family farms that span generations to the agricultural products that drive Iowa’s economy, over 85% of the state’s land is farmland.

Iowa’s robust agriculture industry extends across the spectrum, too. While Iowa leads the nation in the production of crops like soybeans and corn, a prominent and growing sector of Iowa’s agriculture industry is dairy production. Iowa currently ranks 12th nationally in total milk production and eighth in milk produced per cow.

Now, Iowa’s growing dairy industry, and the state’s agriculture industry as a whole, stand to receive a substantial boost courtesy of legislation under consideration by the Iowa Legislature aimed at helping to bring innovation to America’s farmers and catapulting our agriculture industry into the twenty-first century.


The bill, which would establish a Dairy Innovation Fund, helps make available the technology and equipment necessary for Iowa farmers to continue innovating. The Iowa dairy industry supports over 46,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $15.1 billion. With the help of the Dairy Innovation Fund, Iowa farmers will have the opportunity to access critical financial resources that can lead to cost improvements and increased efficiency through the usage of modern dairy technology. The dairy industry would benefit dramatically from the legislation.

The Dairy Innovation Fund would give farmers access to low-interest loans or grants from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to incorporate precision agriculture technology into their operations. This technology will help Iowa’s dairy farmers by improving animal welfare, saving on water and feed usage, improving their milk yields, and lowering emissions, all while helping the industry reach its sustainability goals in the process.

The precision agriculture technology and equipment that the Dairy Innovation Fund will make accessible will be necessary if farmers are to manage the volatility of costs and remain competitive in the global agricultural economy. In Iowa, more than 90% of all farms are family owned, and the Dairy Innovation Fund allows these family farms to secure necessary technology and equipment that might otherwise be unaffordable. This equipment and technology are the way of the future in the agriculture industry, and the Dairy Innovation Fund is one tool in the toolbox we can use to empower Iowa dairy farmers.


Precision agriculture allows small dairy farmers to maximize the yield produced from each animal and minimize their use of resources like land, feed, and water. This equates to lower costs and helps small farmers maximize some of the competitive advantages otherwise realized by larger scale operations.

Iowa’s dairy farmers are already ahead of the curve when it comes to efficiency and continue taking steps forward. From 2020 to 2021, Iowa saw nearly 3% increase in milk production, one of the highest increases in the nation.

But if we want to keep furthering this trend and bolstering our state’s dairy industry, the Dairy Innovation Fund is going to play an integral part. Improvements and modernizations in dairy practices directly correlate with advancements in efficiency for producers and lower costs for consumers.

Iowa’s dairy industry is a vital part of our state’s agriculture industry, and its farmers should have access to state-of-the-art technology to facilitate continued success. Establishing Iowa’s Dairy Innovation Fund is an important step to secure the future of our state’s dairy industry for generations to come.

Chad Huyser is president of Lely North America, a global provider in robotic milking equipment and technology, and is based in Pella, Iowa.

For more perspectives from AEM members, subscribe to the AEM Industry Advisor.