Via the often excellent Freakonomics blog, I found this NY Times story on wineries in Iowa. Some salient points:
“I will make as much selling grape plants off of two acres this year as I did many years on 1,000 acres of corn and raising 3,000 head of hogs,” said Mr. Olson, who makes much of his money selling cuttings to other aspiring vintners.
Corey Goodhue is one such young farmer. His family cultivates 3,300 acres of corn and soybeans near Des Moines. Upon graduation from Iowa State University in December, Mr. Goodhue, 23, will have many options but says he will go back to the farm. He has big ideas about grapes.
“We’re not getting enough value out of corn and beans,” he said. “But these grapes, there’s a tremendous market emerging. On one acre of ground, if we net $40 with corn or beans we’ve done good. With grapes, you could net upwards of $1,500 an acre. For us, growing grapes, it’s the holy grail of high-value crops.”
It all comes back to diversity. We can plow all of Iowa under and use it to make ethanol, or we can diversify and make our family farms profitable again. It really is that simple.
Moving on, there's no way I could provide coverage of the U of I presidential search to compare to what Nick Johnson has done, so again today I'll link you to his coverage.
Finally, BREAKING NEWS: Vegetarian didn't like steakhouse. This story is one of those stories that Chelsea writes every now and then that you think just might end in sex. It doesn't, of course, but it could have.