As a result, October is a great month to visit get out of town and visit a farm near you.
Pumpkin farms, apple orchards, wineries and a wide variety of other farms with an agritourism focus have activities and events that make it easy for visitors to get outside and enjoy Iowa's harvest season.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's website has a searchable online directory of Iowa fruit and vegetable growers that make it easy for Iowans to find a farm near them where they can pick apples or pumpkins or experience other agriculture adventures.
The directory can be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov. and clicking on the "Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Directory" under "Data Search and Directories" on the bottom right of the homepage.
Visiting these farms are a fun family activity and I encourage to take the time to visit one near you the fall to pick some apples or choose the pumpkin that will turn in your family's jack-o'-lantern.
I would also encourage you to consider reaching out to a corn and soybean farmer near you to ask for a combine ride to get a better understanding of that aspect of Iowa agriculture this harvest season.
Iowa leads the nation in growing both corn and soybeans due to our great land, typically agriculture-friendly weather and thousands of highly-skill and passionate farmers who take great pride in the work they do.
A generation or two ago most of us had a family member who still farmed and as a result we had more of an opportunity to see how the farm worked and ask questions. As more folks move to towns and cities, that isn't the case as much today.
Agriculture continues to advance and progress using new technologies and advanced equipment to improve efficiency, increase yields and reduce environmental impacts. As a result of these advancements, in many cases modern farming is less understood than it has been in the past.
Some activist groups have sought to exploit this situation to advance their agenda and the result has been confusion and misunderstanding about how and why farmers do what they do. From biotechnology to modern livestock production and from the role of organic agriculture to why is the equipment so big, interested consumers have good questions and farmers have good answers.
More farmers than ever are ready and willing to talk about what they are doing on their farm and answer questions from their friends and neighbors about why they are doing what they do.
So, I encourage you make an effort to see modern agriculture firsthand and talk to a farmer who can explain how and why they do what they do. The time you take will be well spent and give you an even great appreciation for our farmers that are helping feed the world.
Northey, a fourth generation corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to all Iowans to tell the story of Iowa agriculture. To learn more visit www.IowaAgriculture.gov.