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Republican Candidates for Iowa Secretary of Ag Meet in Forum

ANKENY, Iowa — WHO Radio’s Big Show played host to five Republican Candidates for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. The five will meet in a June 5th Primary Election. The winner will face the lone Democratic Candidate, Tim Gannon, a Mingo Farmer, formerly with the US Department of Agriculture under Tom Vilsack.

The candidates were asked a variety of questions from trade markets for Iowa farmers, to the recruiting of younger farmers to replace many farmers who are nearing retirement.

The first question asked had to deal with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction strategy, and how that would be communicated to Iowans, when it comes to talking about water quality.

“We are moving forward on the IA nutrient reduction strategy, we have begun to address funding issues, it’s only a start,” said candidate Ray Gaesser, who has served as President of the American Soybean Association. “We need about 5 billion dollars in the state of Iowa to really meet the strategy needs over the next couple of decades.”

“We need to let the public know that edge of field practices that do the biggest reduction like bio-reactors, saturated buffers, wetlands, cost a lot of money<“ said candidate Chad Ingels, who has worked as a farmer and for ISU Extension. “The farmer gets zero benefit from those practices.”

“We focus on providing the metrics to the public to prove that it is working,” said candidate Craig Lang, who has served as President of the Iowa Farm Bureau. “Part of the reason why I’ve said, we should have five million acres of cover crops in five years, is because that’s a less expensive way than some of the field structures that we have, the bio-reactors.”

“ The funding that was passed earlier this legislative session, it allows us to turn the page and really move from a demonstration phase, to an implementation phase to what we need to do across the state,” said Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig who is running for a first full term after replacing Bill Northey earlier this year.

When you talk about success of the nutrient reduction strategy, here’s a creek that hadn’t seen these mussels in it for over 20 years,” said candidate Dan Zumbach, referring to a creek near his home in Northeast Iowa.  Zumbach now serves in the Iowa Legislature. “Now these mussels have moved back in, small mouthed bass are moving in, because of the voluntary efforts the farmers have put into place.”

The candidate forum was held at DMACC’s FFA Enrichment Center on campus in Ankeny.