Republican candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture Craig Lang announcing his statewide steering committee today, saying its six members from across the state represent “my vision of creating to profitable future for rural Iowa.”
“When I began my campaign last December, I pledged to bring Iowans together to improve the state’s soil health, water quality and rural economy," Lang says. Today marks another step in fulfilling that promise to Iowans,” Lang said at a Statehouse news conference. “I’m humbled and honored to have the support of what I call the ‘super-six ag leadership team.’ Each one of them is known and respected for his and her accomplishments, vision and effort to make our state better today, tomorrow and far into the future.” Listen for more on today's Big Show at 12:35 here:
Lang’s statewide steering committee includes:
· Steve Berger, a Wellman grain and livestock farmer who has built a conservation legacy throughout the state for his extensive efforts to promote the use of cover crops and no-till practices to promote soil health. Berger, who plants more than 2,000 acres of cover crops the protect the soil during the off-season, holds cover-cropping programs for farmers across the country who are seeking to reduce their use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. “Craig is a successful family farmer, entrepreneur and businessman who can oversee and manage a department while providing leadership during challenging times in agriculture. He has the experience of leading a large organization as the Iowa Farm Bureau and recognizes the challenges that go with bringing ideas and people together for a common goal,” Berger said.
· Former legislator Sandy Greiner, a fifth-generation family farmer. During her 20 years in the Iowa General Assembly, Greiner served on the Senate Agriculture Committee and chaired the House Environmental Protection Committee and the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. “I’ve been watching Craig Lang’s career for 20 years. He’s been a strong advocate for all of agriculture,” Greiner said.
· Mark Leonard, a Holstein businessman and livestock producer. Leonard provides financial planning and financing options for agricultural and commercial ventures. An Iowa Ag Development Authority board member, he has owned and operated Leonard Limousin Inc., specializing in merchandising live animals and breeding, since 1971. His company is one of the nation’s oldest Limousin cattle breeding firms with customers in more than 40 states and 23 countries. "One of the big reasons I decided to support Craig is that we have never had an activist secretary of agriculture. Craig is a man who is not afraid to express his opinions and I know he will never shirk from the difficult discussions and decisions involved in being Iowa's secretary of agriculture," Leonard said.
· Mike Olson of Pella. Olson, who is a community banker with Lincoln Savings Bank in Grinnell, is active in government outreach for the Iowa Bankers Association and represents Iowa on the American Bankers Association's Banker Advocacy and Grassroots Committee in Washington, D.C. Olson is a retired lieutenant colonel who served in the Iowa Army National Guard for 29 years. “I have known Craig for over 20 years and he is certainly a leader in agriculture. His deep commitment to the success of small towns and rural areas of Iowa is admirable and worthy of support,” Olson said.
· Mark Peterson, a Stanton farmer and president of Practical Farmers of Iowa. Mark and his wife Melanie farm about 500 acres and have been experimenting for several years with different farming methods to retain nutrients in their soil and protect nearby water quality by planting cover crops and implementing no-till practices. “I met Craig for the first time in January and was immediately impressed with his passion for soil health and water quality. As we discussed further and I came to realize Craig's enthusiasm for rural Iowa revitalization and development, I knew Craig would be the right candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture. He is the one that I support and all Iowans can support,” Peterson said.
· Bryan Sievers, a fifth-generation Scott County farmer and former state legislator. Sievers is a leader on his own farm when it comes to renewable energy. Sievers owns and manages AgriReNew, which focuses on producing renewable energy and electricity from biomass, crop residues, animal waste, and agricultural processing waste. "Craig Lang will work tirelessly to represent Iowa's farmers and rural communities,” Sievers said. “The leadership he's demonstrated and the commitment Craig's made to agriculture while focusing on enhancing our natural resources, including the air we breathe, the land we farm, and the water we drink represent the qualities we need from the individual who will serve as Iowa's next secretary of agriculture."
Lang pledged to “embrace and support technologies” that reduce and eliminate the need for fossil fuels. that provide solutions to dealing with the eventuality of a world without fossil fuels, as well as providing cleaner burning energy for the environment. He said guidance from Berger and Peterson will be invaluable in reaching his goal for farmers to voluntarily increase their cover crop acreage from the current 1 million to 5 million within five years and to protect and regenerate the state’s 29 million acres of farmland.
Lang said Greiner’s experience will add to his effectiveness as an advocate for Iowa farmers as he works with legislators and various local, state and federal decision makers to craft policies and legislation. “Mark Leonard’s experience will be instrumental in helping us achieve my goal of doubling our state’s bovine industry as a way to improve soil health and bring jobs and prosperity to rural Iowa,” he said.
Lang noted that the state’s healthiest local economies are anchored by strong community banks. He will rely on guidance from Olson “as we seek to provide more support for young farmers and rural entrepreneur networks and lead the discussion about the importance of rural investment capital and strategic rural ventures.”
“I've surrounded myself with these great people, who are among the brightest minds in our state, for a simple reason: we're all in this together as Iowans. We face great challenges and we have tremendous opportunities. We will succeed together or fail together,” Lang said. “I'm an optimist and a realist ‒ and I know we will succeed if we chart the right course and work together to achieve our common goal of healthy soil, improved water quality and a robust rural economy.”