A Qualitative Analysis of the Perceptions of Iowa Corn Farmers Regarding Alternative Energy Usage and a Proposal for Policy Change
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The agricultural industry in the United States is highly energy-intensive accounting for 17% of all energy used. Approximately 400 gallons of oil are used annually to feed each American. The agricultural industry, specifically in Iowa, is highly dependent on corn growth with 43.5% of the world’s corn being grown in the U.S. Unfortunately, the world supply of oil accounted for today is only expected to last a mere 40 to 50 years from now. In order to understand the best method for transitioning to an alternative energy source within the agricultural industry, specifically the corn industry in Iowa, an understanding of the individuals involved in the corn industry must first be established. Interviews were conducted of farmers from various parts of Iowa to answer questions concerning their background, how much energy is used on the farm currently, and how they felt about alternative energy usage on the farm. The results were analyzed and one main theme resonated throughout: “Economics drives everything.” A recommendation was then made to decrease the amount of corn subsidies provided to the average corn farm and reallocating those funds to an incentive program centered around a four-year crop rotation system which would ultimately decrease fertilizer and fossil fuel usage.