Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will speak at Iowa's Dairy Center on Wednesday, April 3.

The event begins at 2 p.m. and is co-sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation and the Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Foundation. Iowa's Dairy Center is located at 1527 Hwy. 150 just south of the NICC Calmar campus.

Northey's presentation will focus on the importance of Iowa agriculture to the state's economy and how farming makes a critical impact on the economic well-being of rural communities in Iowa. NICC President Liang Chee Wee will speak following Northey's presentation.

"Iowa ranks first in corn and soybean crop production and 12th in dairy production in the U.S., and that's a big thing to be able to say about our state," said Megan Kregel, coordinator of Iowa's Dairy Center. Kregel cited a 2012 study, Iowa's Dairy Industry: An Economic Review, which calculated the economic impact of dairy operations on communities in Iowa.

"The study concluded that the total economic impact per dairy cow in Iowa is $23,445. Dairy production means a lot to a community, and this study shows how rural communities would benefit from the impact of dairy farming, compared to communities that do not have a strong dairy presence," Kregel added.

Iowa's Dairy Center is supported by the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, a non-profit, grassroots organization formed to prepare young men and women to operate dairy farms, provide ongoing education for existing dairy farmers and serve as a public educational facility. The center includes an educational facility with classrooms and labs, a milking parlor, freestall barn and calf barn. The partnership with NICC allows students enrolled in dairy programs to receive hands-on training with a 250-cow herd at the center.

In addition to dairy science students, the center provides hands-on learning opportunities for NICC students enrolled in the large animal veterinary technician, pre-veterinary medicine, Animal science and many other ag-related programs at the college. NICC hosted an open house on March 21 to celebrate the completion of a necropsy lab and analysis area for Large Animal Veterinary Technician program students.

Community members who are interested in attending the April 3 event should RSVP by contacting Megan Kregel at (563) 534-9957, ext. 107, or kregelm@nicc.edu. For more information on 25 academic agriculture programs at NICC, visit www.nicc.edu/agprograms.