Election results 2022: Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig wins reelection
Mike Naig has won reelection to a new 4-year term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture per a call made by The Associated Press.
Meet the Agriculture Secretary candidates
Iowa's secretary of agriculture heads the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which manages the state's land stewardship and agriculture programs. Republican incumbent Mike Naig faces Democratic challenger John Norwood.
Republican incumbent Naig is a farmer who became the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in 2013 and succeeded Bill Northey in 2018.
Naig’s campaign website says his top issues are expanding markets and trade, improving water quality and soil health and helping rural communities thrive.
Democrat John Norwood is the current Soil & Water Commissioner for Polk County. At the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, he said he’ll represent farmers and consumers if he’s elected.
Norwood also said Iowa is “out of balance," pointing to the state’s water quality and impaired waters, soil loss and population decline in rural communities. He expressed the need to fight climate change and build a “resilient system” that can overcome future drought and flooding.
He added he also wants to support both large- and small-scale farmers, make new opportunities for minority farmers, build markets and diversify the kinds of crops grown in Iowa.
Pipelines have been proposed by three companies to carry carbon from ethanol companies to help reduce their climate impact.
At a debate hosted by Iowa Press on Sept. 30, both candidates expressed opposition to the use of eminent domain, which may be used in order for the pipelines to progress across the state. Norwood said the pipelines should not qualify for eminent domain because they are not a public use, while Naig said eminent domain should be considered only as a last resort.
Ethanol vs. electric
The ethanol industry is competing with the use of electric vehicles as a more eco-friendly alternative.
Naig said ethanol is too important to Iowa's ag economy to let it go by the wayside and suggested the ethanol industry look into how to lower its carbon intensity, which pipelines are intended to do. Norwood said Iowa should also rely on renewable diesel and biodiesel as fuel alternatives.
Wind farm and solar panel location
Controversy has sprung up in certain Iowa counties about whether or not wind farms and solar panels should be allowed on farmland that could otherwise be used to grow crops. Norwood said decisions about where to place wind farms should be left up to individual counties, while Naig said solar panels should be placed on farmland deemed "not as productive."
Iowa State University and various state agencies including the Department of Agriculture released a list of conservation practices farmers could implement voluntarily to help reduce farm pollution.
Norwood said the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy is not making enough progress as it turns ten next year. Naig disagreed, saying he recognizes nitrogen in waterways has increased over the last ten years, but that there’s never been more awareness and conservation work in the state’s history.