It is primary day, and while Democrat Candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Tim Gannon is uncontested, the Republicans have five candidates.
Ray Gaesser is an Adams County farmer as well as a former president for the American Soybean Association and the Iowa Soybean Association.
Gaesser says one of the biggest challenges for Iowa's agriculture is profitability, he thinks his background as a leader gives him an advantage to work for Iowa's farmers.
Gaesser says, "I've had so many opportunities for leadership, you know, not only in Iowa but in the United States and around the world. To share our story about agriculture, to help develop markets and implement markets around the world, to help with policy. I was chairman of the policy division of ASA when we implemented the 2014 farm bill."
On his platform, Gaesser is interested in land, air, and water stewardship; open doors for farmer livelihoods; long term policies and innovative practices; and ensuring food safety while protecting farmers' rights.
Gaesser says he leads by example, he farms no-till and uses cover crops, "Secretary of Agriculture really needs to be an advocate for agriculture but also for communities in Iowa to represent them. And a responsible, profitable agriculture is what I advocate for. And strong and healthy farms, create strong and healthy communities, and a strong and healthy Iowa."
Gaesser's website is: http://www.gaesserforiowa.com/
Chad Ingels is a Fayette County farmer and served as an Iowa State University Extension Watershed Specialist for 17 years. In addition to extension work, he has been a member of Iowa's Environmental Protection Commission since 2013 and serves as the acting commission chair. On the National level, Ingels also leads the American Farm Bureau Water Advisory Committee.
Ingels says his experience in helping farmers in Iowa and around the nation will help him with challenges facing the state's agriculture, "A lot of time working with farmers on water quality issues. Understanding that they're more than willing to do the work that improves water, improves soil. But we need to give them the information. A lot of times it's local information."
On his platform, Ingels is interested in continuing communication with Washington, expansion of E-15 availability, continuing open dialogues about trade and exports, and reducing barriers for success for farms of all sizes.
The main issue he wants to work on is water quality. During the past year, Ingels has also been a part of the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council’s efforts to measure the progress of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Ingels hopes to start where previous leaders left off, "I think what Secretary Northey has done to elevate the conversation related to water quality. Getting put in place, the nutrient reduction strategy. Kind of putting a base in place and I would really like to be the one that helps to accelerate the implementation of the strategy and get to some of those goals that we're trying to achieve."
Ingels' website is: https://ingelsforiowaag.com/
Craig Lang is a Poweshiek County dairy farmer and former Iowa Farm Bureau president.
Lang wants to protect and regenerate Iowa's 29 million acres of farmland, "We've had conservation. Now, let's add soil health, let's clean the water, and economic activity. For the 10 years as Farm Bureau president that was a priority issue with me. So, I want to take that. I want to call it a renaissance of economic activity across the entire state of Iowa."
Lang has set goals of five million acres of cover crops in five years. He also wants to bolster the bovine industry, which includes dairy, cattle, and goats.
And on his platform, he is promoting trade and manufacturing, encouraging rural growth in internet and businesses, and supporting young farmers.
Lang wants to bridge the rural-urban gap to do that, "Bringing farmers and communities together to set the goals together. There's been a division, but I don't want there to be a division. I want everyone working together at the same table."
Lang's website is: https://www.craiglangiowa.com/
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig is the incumbent appointed by Governor Kim Reynolds. He helps with his family farm in Palo Alto County and was Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2013 to 2018. Before that, he worked in public policy with agriculture businesses and associations.
Naig says being deputy secretary puts him in a unique position to take on one of the biggest jobs, "Being an advocate for Iowa, for Iowa producers, for our products, our businesses. And also being a voice for agriculture. Both here domestically and internationally as we think about export markets and developing those. And so, I've got a career that brings those skill sets forward and I like to put that experience to work."
On his platform, Naig wants to embrace science and technology to better care for Iowa’s natural resources, secure a safe and affordable food and energy supply, and build markets for Iowa products.
Naig says his experience has equipped him to handle the challenges of the secretary, "I look back over those years and think about some good days and some bad days. I think about the high path avian influenza in 2015 and some of those calls that we got during those times that were tough and you've got to be able to weather through those things."
Naig's website is: https://www.mikenaig.com/
Dan Zumbach is a Delaware County farmer as well as a six year District 48 Iowa Senator and Assistant Majority Leader. He is the chair of the State Senate Agriculture Committee.
He says that experience in agriculture will give him a position of bridging the urban-rural divide, "As ag committee chair, I have that ability, and I'm in a position to bring people together. And Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans work very, very closely in the ag committee and I hope that I've been able to bring consensus over, and over, and over again."
Zumbach says he is a fiscal conservative and wants to work within state means, adding he wants more creativity to spend smarter and more efficiently. He says he would like to continue Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's policies and elevate that legacy to higher levels.
When it comes to the challenges in Iowa agriculture, he says there's two parts to face, "We have to continue to find places to market our products. And Bill Northey did a great job building those markets and ensuring Iowa products are good. And on the complete other end of that stick, Bill was inundated by folks that didn't understand agriculture and we've got to make sure to sell the accurate and right positive message of agriculture and I think I can do that."
Zumbach's website is: http://www.danzumbach.com/