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Lang launches campaign for Iowa ag secretary post
BROOKLYN, Iowa - Craig Lang, an Iowa County dairy farmer and former Iowa Farm Bureau president, has launched his campaign for Iowa secretary of agriculture.
Lang committed to bringing together Iowans to improve the state's soil health, water quality and rural economy - 'issues that are most important to the future not only of rural Iowa, but our entire state.”
How the state addresses those issues 'will determine whether our soil washes away or regenerates, our water becomes dirtier or cleaner and our rural communities struggle or once again become the vibrant economic engines we know they can be,” Lang said at a campaign kickoff event Thurday at the Brooklyn area dairy and beef farm he operates with his father, sons and a brother.
Lang, 66, a former president of the Iowa Board of Regents, will seek the Republican nomination for the post held by Bill Northey since January 2007. Northey is awaiting Senate confirmation as USDA undersecretary of farm production and conservation.
Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to appoint an interim secretary to serve out Northey's term. Much of the speculation focuses on her appointing Deputy Secretary Mike Naig.
Lang said soil loss on Iowa's 29 million acres of farmland can be reversed and soil health improved by bringing back the cattle industry, diversifying crop rotations and adding more cover crops.
'It's been proven that cover crops can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff by 30 percent,” he said. Iowa farmers seed an estimated 1 million acres of winter cover crops. His goal would be to see that grow to 5 million acres in five years and continue to increase.
Lang, who served as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation from 2001 to 2011, wants to expand efforts to promote trade, especially to China, which has reopened its markets to U.S. beef, as well as India and other Asian countries.
He has some experience in that area. While working with the Ministry of Agriculture on agriculture biotechnology in China, Lang signed the first non-governmental organization memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau.
He wants to create more ownership in the local manufacturing of the products raised in Iowa, as well as encourage more high-speed internet connectivity, seek more support for young farmers and rural entrepreneur networks 'and lead the discussion about the importance of rural investment capital and strategic rural ventures.”
For Iowa to be successful, Lang said he wants to bring together diverse groups to bolster Iowa's agriculture sector.
'We're all in this together as Iowans,” Lang said. 'We face great challenges, and we have tremendous opportunities. We will either succeed together or fail together. I'm an optimist and a realist, and I know we will succeed if we chart the right course and work together to achieve a common goal.”
Lang served as chairman of the board of the FBL Financial Group while president of the Farm Bureau. Gov. Tom Vilsack appointed him chairman of the Grow Iowa Values Fund and vice chair of the Iowa Economic Development Board.
Lang is president of The Prairie Strategy Group, consulting on food production, policy and logistics. He also consults on rural economic development issues and consensus- and opportunity-building.
Lang and his wife, Mary, have four adult children.