Ag Secretary in Iowa: The Most Important Race You've Never Heard About | Civil Eats

Ag Secretary in Iowa: The Most Important Race You’ve Never Heard About

A lot of ink, airtime, and media megabytes are being used to cover the huge number of elections going on all around the nation right now. One of the most important is getting very little coverage, even though it affects every single person in my home state and indeed the US in very personal ways. It is the race for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

Unless you are part of the less-than-two-percent of America that are farmers, you might ask yourself why such a race could be important to you. Look at it this way, the issues in this race are only important to those who eat, and if you eat you are a part of agriculture.

Francis Thicke (it’s pronounced “Tick-ee”) is the only candidate for the office with the vision needed to put the power in the hands of the farmer. In one sense he means to do so literally, with a comprehensive plan for on-farm power generation that will free our farms from the choking yoke of foreign oil.

He also wants power back in the hands of local communities, seeking to overturn the legislation (forced through by large corporate interests) that keeps counties and other local governments from having a voice in whether to allow big polluting hog factories in their jurisdictions. He wants regulations with teeth and enough inspectors to carry out the regulations, so that horrible cases like the recent salmonella outbreak at two Iowa egg factories do not recur. Best of all, he wants crop diversity and local food production so that Iowa, an agricultural state, needn’t import 90 percent of its food as it does right now. That’s $7.2 billion that leaves Iowa every year, never to return. The more food we buy from local sources, the more of that money that stays here.

Consider it this way: Johnson County, for example, has about 50,000 households. If each of those households redirected just ten dollars of their existing weekly grocery budget toward something local–from a farmers market, a CSA, or eggs from the farmer down the road–it would keep $26 million in the local economy. Imagine the impact if that were to happen statewide, in all 99 counties, with all 3.5 million Iowans.

Some may feel that they don’t want government telling them what to eat. Bad news for them: the government is already telling you what to eat, successfully, and it is mostly very unhealthy for you and your children. It is however quite healthy for the bottoms lines of a few very large, mostly out-of-state chemical and biotech firms, which is why they want Iowans to re-elect Bill Northey, and why they’ve given so much out-of-state money to Mr. Northey’s campaign.

newsmatch banner 2022

Francis Thicke has been a professional farmer for nearly 30 years. He has a PhD in soil science, and decades of hands-on farm and public service experience. He is beholden to no corporate or out-of-state interests at all.

For the most change you can create in this election, I urge Iowans to vote for Francis Thicke for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. If you’re from out-of-state, I urge you to lend your voices.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Originally published on The Huffington Post

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Chef Kurt Michael Friese is editor-in-chief and co-owner of the local food magazine Edible Iowa River Valley. A graduate and former Chef-Instructor at the New England Culinary Institute, he has been owner, with his wife Kim McWane Friese, of the Iowa City restaurant Devotay for 16 years. Named for his children Devon and Taylor, Devotay is a community leader in sustainable cuisine and supporting local farmers and food artisans. Friese is a freelance food writer and photographer as well, with regular columns in 6 local, regional and national newspapers and magazines. His first book, A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland was published by in August, 2008 by Ice Cube Press, and his lates book, Chasing Chiles, was released by Chelsea Green Publishing in March, 2011. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

  1. Brian Horsfield
    Thanks for posting this! Iowa has a powerful voice to determine the future of agriculture.

    Another great story here:
    http://www.capitolhillblue.com/node/33753

    The Biggest Election Showdown is WHERE?

    The race is statistically a dead heat. If Thicke wins, Food. Inc. director Robert Kenner says he will be “a game changer who can fix our agricultural system.” Grist says, “it would be a huge win not only for sustainable agriculture in Iowa, but the nation. And it would send a clear message to Congress as lobbyists and activists begin putting on their battle overalls for the next Farm Bill.”

    Although this sounds like a lot to expect from one small state election for Ag Secretary, it’s not just any state, and it’s not just any candidate. “Iowa is one of our agricultural heavyweights,” says the Iowa Independent, which also predicts that Congress will definitely pay attention to whoever wins this election.”

    “Iowa has always focused the nation’s agricultural vision,” says author Bill McKibben, who founded the global climate change organization 350.org. “We need Francis Thicke,” he says, “to help frame that new vision, right in the middle of the Heartland.”

    According to Fred Kirschenmann, a father of the sustainable farming movement, “Thicke’s vision for Iowa agriculture is informed by his own experience as a farmer and by his academic study and research.”

    Help Francis Thicke get better known by clicking like at:
    http://www.facebook.com/FrancisThicke

More from

Farm Bill

Featured

Ann Tenakhongva, 62, and her husband, Clark Tenakhongva, 65, sort traditional Hopi Corn at their home on First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona on September 28, 2022. The corn comes from the families’ field in the valley between First Mesa and Second Mesa, which Clark had just harvested. The corn is organized on racks to dry out and then stored in cans and bins for years to come. Much of the corn is ground up for food and ceremonial purposes. Corn is an integral part of Hopi culture and spirituality. (Photo by David Wallace)

Climate-Driven Drought Is Stressing the Hopi Tribe’s Foods and Traditions

Most Hopi grow corn with only the precipitation that falls on their fields, but two decades of drought have some of them testing the waters of irrigation and hoping they can preserve other customs with their harvests.

Popular

A Young Oyster Farmer Carrying on the Family Business

Gaby Zlotkowsky on a boat holding a basket of oysters. (Photo credit: Capshore Photography)

Young People Working for Food Justice in North Carolina

Michael

Young Fishermen Are Struggling to Stay Afloat

Lucas Raymond holding a halibut. (Photo courtesy of the New England Young Fishermen's Alliance)

This Mother-Daughter Team Is Sharing Food Traditions from the Ho-Chunk Nation

Elena Terry, (left) and Zoe Fess smile after showcasing Seedy SassSquash, a signature family dish, during the Smithsonian’s