By: Brooke Sieren
As we gear up for another election season this fall, we are looking forward to electing our new public officials. One office that is especially important in Iowa is the Secretary of Agriculture. This position is vital to leading our state, national, and even international agricultural policies. This year’s candidates include five Republicans; Ray Gaesser, Chad Ingels, Craig Lang, Mike Naig, Dan Zumbach, and one Democrat; Tim Gannon. With the Iowa Primary fast approaching on June 5th, we thought we’d highlight each of the candidates and encourage you to research their platforms.
From Corning, IA, Gaesser currently farms 6,050 acres of corn and soybeans. He has held various leadership positions in the Iowa Soybean Association and American Soybean Association. Additionally, he was a co-chair with Bill Northey for the Iowa Conservation Infrastructure Initiative; a program that focuses on all the tools, equipment, and knowledge necessary to improve Iowa’s water quality.
If elected, his top priority is to promote the strengthening of Iowa farms, which will support strong communities. Gaesser would like to grow trade markets and increase jobs in agricultural conservation and technology. He supports the stewardship of Iowa’s land, air, and water, and will strive to protect the rights of farmers while promoting food safety.
Chad Ingels of Randalia is a hog farmer and a watershed specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. He has gained political experience through the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and the West Central School Board.
Ingels’ top priority as Secretary of Agriculture would be to improve water quality by increasing the efforts of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. He also supports the diversification of agriculture by not only reducing the barrier to entry for young and beginning farmers but also promoting farmers selling directly to consumers in niche markets. Ingels also has goals to improve our economy by adding jobs that add value to agriculture; areas such as agriculture processing, livestock production, biotechnology, and engineering.
Lang is a 5th generation farmer, with 1,200 acres and a cow/calf beef operation in Brooklyn, IA. Additionally, he is involved in a 650-head dairy with his brother and father. He served as President of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for 10 years, and has also been involved in FBL Financial Group, Grow Iowa Values Fund, and the Iowa Economic Development Board.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Lang would make soil health a top priority by encouraging Iowa farmers to diversify and improve soil management practices. Improving water quality and increasing the strength of our rural economies are also Lang’s goals.
Naig, the current Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, was appointed after Bill Northey left the position to become the USDA’s under secretary for farm production and conservation. Prior to his current role, Naig was the Deputy Secretary for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. As Deputy Secretary, he helped implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
One of his main priorities is to continue our global leadership in agriculture by expanding markets and trade for Iowa producers. Naig also supports a strong renewable fuels market. Additionally, he wants to improve water quality and land stewardship by continuing the advancement of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Current District 48 State Senator, Dan Zumbach, also has his sights set on Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. In addition to farming in Ryan, IA, Zumbach has served on the West Delaware School Board and the Delaware County Fair Board.
His goal is to be a strong ambassador of Iowa agriculture and plans to use his experience and connections in the Iowa Senate to do so. Zumbach supports the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to improve our water quality in both rural and urban areas. He promotes the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers to aid farmers in decisions regarding the size and location of livestock farms. Additionally, Zumbach encourages the increased use of livestock manure as fertilizer, reducing the need for commercial fertilizer.
Gannon is a Mingo, IA native and is part of his family’s Century Farm. Gannon worked under previous Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for 8 years, where he helped improve the USDA’s services; including expanding its business loan program for farmers. With the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, he oversaw the expansion of the 2014 Farm Bill to include more insurance options for producers.
If elected, his priority is to improve Iowa’s rural economy, since the rural economy has a large effect on the state’s opportunities and the economy as a whole. He will strive to increase the health of Iowa soils, and improve water quality across the state.
On Tuesday, June 5th, stand up and support our agriculture by casting your vote in the Iowa Primary.
Gaesser, Ray. Gaesser for Iowa, www.gaesserforiowa.com/.
Gannon, Tim. Tim Gannon for Iowa, www.gannonforiowa.com/.
Ingels, Chad. Ingels for Iowa Ag, ingelsforiowaag.com/.
Lang, Craig. Craig Lang Iowa, www.craiglangiowa.com/.
Lee Enterprises, and Journal Des Moines Bureau. “Profiles of Republican Candidates for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.” Sioux City Journal, 15 May 2018, siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/profiles-of-republican-candidates-for-iowa-secretary-of-agriculture/article_41cf02bd-422c-5e6a-9f9f-5c2fdaac48c7.html.
Naig, Mike. Mike Naig, www.mikenaig.com/.
Zumbach, Dan. Dan Zumbach, www.danzumbach.com/.