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Gage A. Kent

Innovation is a word we hear over and over in today’s high-tech society, but most people’s first connection to the word would not be with raising cows, pigs, sheep or other animals. However, I would assert that the science and technology that goes into raising healthy livestock rivals, and is integrated with, the innovations in nearly every other industry we rely on for modern life.

Nowhere in the world is that more true than in the Midwest; and especially in Iowa. Here in America’s Cultivation Corridor, exciting innovations from farmers, university researchers, industry scientists and entrepreneurs are happening daily, and at an accelerated pace. Iowa is the cutting edge for the science making the production of meat, milk, grains and other important ag products more efficient and sustainable.

On March 11, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation designating the week of March 10-16 as "Agriculture Innovation Week in Iowa." In addition to improving how animals are raised and food is produced, innovations in animal agriculture are driving job growth and opportunities throughout the state.

In 1927, Gage A. Kent had the innovative idea that feeding calves only quality, nutritious ingredients – without "fillers" like weed seeds, hulls or floor sweepings – would result in healthier animals and ultimately better beef. That idea led to Kent Baby Beef "Feed Without A Filler" product, which revolutionized the feed industry and launched a company dedicated to manufacturing only the highest quality feeds to meet customer needs.

More than nine decades later, the company my grandfather started now employs 2,000 people across 13 states, with customers around the globe. Our focus at Kent Corporation remains unchanged: using technology and innovation to meet the nutritional needs of animals and people.

It is even more exciting to see that same commitment to animal agriculture resulting in job opportunities and growth in rural communities across the state of Iowa. From established industry leaders to start-ups, we are seeing investments and research that will improve animal health, animal care, sustainability and productivity for generations to come. Iowa, and Iowans, play an important role as we lead the charge of feeding a growing world.

Whether it is equipment and technology that allows farmers to raise the best quality silage and grain crops for animal feed, or solutions for sustainable animal production methods, or developments in animal Ag sciences that are used as building blocks for human health and cures for disease, innovations that start in Iowa are making a difference around the world.

For researchers, leaders and entrepreneurs, there is no better place to start or grow a business. World-class universities and research institutions and a growing start-up ecosystem provide support and connections to partners and mentors. And proximity to some of the most innovative and progressive livestock producers in the world provides the opportunity for testing and on-farm research.

I am excited for the next generation of industry-leading ideas to spark and grow here in America’s Cultivation Corridor.

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Gage Kent is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Kent Corporation, based in Muscatine. Kent is also past chairman of the Cultivation Corridor initiative.

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