First Forum Introduces Candidates for Secretary of Agriculture

The first forum featuring candidates to be the next Iowa Secretary of Agriculture was in Arlington, Iowa on Tuesday night, hosted by the Fayette County Corn Growers.

Five of the six candidates showed up to talk to farmers and answer questions, hoping to sway the primary vote this June and the electoral vote in November.

In their introductory statements, the candidates tried to convince voters they were the right choice.

Ray Gaesser has been President of the American Soybean Association, he says the relationships he built there will help speak to the world.

Gaesser says, "Those relationships as we talk about trade tariffs, trade issues, negotiating trade deals, they will serve us well, those relationships that we've built, that I've built and that experience that I have."

Tim Gannon points to a struggling rural economy. He has experience leading the Risk Management Agency at the USDA and wants to increase research to have more job creating tools.

Gannon says, "We need to be doing more with what we grow and raise. The export markets that we're very concerned about are very important, but that's just one piece of it. And so, if we do the research, we grow the crop here, we make and produce it here, we're going to be creating new jobs and new wealth across rural Iowa."

Chad Ingels works with Iowa State University Extension, he says Iowans expect the secretary of agriculture to be a farmer.

Ingels says, "Farmers are going to lead the way. We have to give them the opportunity to take the lead, be creative, government needs to grease the wheels so to speak and not put up barriers to success."

Dan Zumbach is an Iowa State Senator, he points to his experience leading and telling the story of Iowa Agriculture.

Zumbach says, "I've been outside our borders north and south. Traveled both oceans east and west and I believe my communication skills, which it's really about communicating to everyone about Iowa agriculture. The world looks to the United States, the United States looks to Iowa, Iowa needs the Department of Agriculture to promote what we do."

Craig Lang is a former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, he thinks rural Iowa depends on farmers and wants to support them and other rural jobs.

Lang says, "When Iowa farmers do well, Iowa excels. I believe in Iowa's great people and I know our farmers and communities can work together to provide a sustainable farming future for generations to come."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig was the only candidate unable to make it to the forum.

Later this week, the Agribusiness Report will have more coverage over the issues the candidates discussed Tuesday night.