Farmer of the Future and Harvest Public Media
Kathleen Masterson offers the first dispatch, a report considering how the northwest region of Iowa, with its recent population growth and cultural diversity, presents both a model for the future and set of complex questions. Here is the transcript introduction to “Blending of Culture May be Blueprint for Growth:”
Sioux County, in northwest Iowa, is known for its Dutch pastries. The landscape is dotted with Lutheran and reform churches. But today, Catholic churches and tortillerias are creeping into the landscape — signs of the new residents joining this vibrant community.
In Sioux County, as in a scattering of communities across the Midwest, Hispanic immigrants are working in meat processing plants, dairies, egg-laying facilities and hog barns. In fact, the majority of U.S. farm laborers today were born outside the U.S.
And while some parts of the rural Midwest are hollowing out, areas like Sioux County and its biggest city Sioux Center, are actually growing as immigrant populations move in to take jobs that otherwise employers cannot fill.
Sioux Center’s population has grown 17 percent and the county is up 7 percent over the last decade. Meanwhile, government figures indicate 91 of Iowa’s 99 counties have declined by about 9 percent over the last three decades.
No surprise, Sioux Center looks very different than many other rural communities in Iowa. But although this area may well offer a glimpse of the farming community of the future, the melding of cultures is not always easy.