DES MOINES — Tim Gannon, an Iowa farmer and former official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, plans to run for Iowa agriculture secretary, he announced Thursday.
Gannon, a Democrat, grew up in Mingo, lives in Des Moines and farms his family’s 900-acre century farm in Jasper County. The 41-year-old also has worked as a crop insurance agent and in the USDA under then-U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor.
“I am optimistic about what we can do to improve the economy and improve the bottom lines for farm families,” Gannon said.
Preparing the state’s next generation of farmers is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture, Gannon said. The average age of an Iowa farmer is in the upper 50s, Gannon said, meaning the state soon will have to replace a wave of farmers.
Gannon said the state must find ways to encourage younger people to get into farming, which he said can be helped by making rural Iowa attractive to young people and making efforts to minimize college student debt.
On one of the foremost issues facing the state, Gannon said he thinks the legislation recently approved by Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Legislature is not sufficient to address Iowa’s water quality issues.
Legislation signed into law this week by Reynolds would create for water quality programs roughly $270 million over the next 11 years.
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“The bill is not quite at those levels (of needed funding and conservation practices),” Gannon said. “I think there’s a lot going on that is trending in the right direction. The question is how do we get not just the trend going in the right direction, but the pace going in the right direction to bring about better outcomes.”
Gannon said he thinks his experience working not only as an Iowa farmer but in the federal ag department will help him devise solutions to water quality and other issues facing Iowa agriculture.