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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 25, 2018

Ag candidate visits Washington

Apr 04, 2018

By John Butters, The JOURNAL

Craig Lang, a Republican candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, describes himself as an activist.

“I’m running because I want to change Iowa’s landscape. I want to provide the kind of agriculture that works to clean our water and make our land more sustainable through healthy soils,” he said.

Lang stopped in Washington Tuesday as he campaigns throughout the state to improve his chances of emerging first in the June primary elections.

June primary ballots will also include political party candidates for the governor’s office and other state and county officials.

Lang, who farms near Brooklyn, said his activism is rooted in a long history of family farming.

“My grandfather came to Iowa in 1860. We have three generations now working on the same farm, all making daily decisions. My 92-year-old father and my two sons help run the operation,” he said.

Lang said that as a former president of the Farm Bureau, he learned how the agricultural department can bring Iowans together to improve soil health, water quality and the rural economy.

While sustainable agriculture is one of his primary concerns, he is also interested in the sustainability of Iowa’s small towns. The rural economy is important to farmers, he said, because it affects the communities where they live and educate their children.

He believes the Secretary of Agriculture should accept responsibility for strengthening Iowa’s rural economy. That includes helping local businesses survive.

“I believe one of the roles of the Secretary of Agriculture is to provide opportunity to established businesses to be passed on to the younger generations. We can do that through tax incentives and abatements, just as we do it for large corporations,” he said.

In regard to sustainable agriculture, Lang says farmers must do a better job of demonstrating that they care for the land and the water.

“It’s not enough to say that the water is better today than it was 20 years ago. We need to show the metrics that demonstrate the water is better and that we are improving the water quality,” he said.

Lang says Iowa farmers have embraced new technologies for improving soil health and controlling nitrate infiltration. The use of cover crops and other conservation methods are showing results that the public might not know about.

Recent lawsuits filed against agricultural producers have brought the issue to the forefront, he said. Farmers need to let consumers know about their progress.

“Farmers will have to continue to make practice changes to avoid increasing government regulation,” he said.

To get started in farming, young entrepreneurs might need to change the way they look at things.

“They don’t need to own everything. They can lease land and share equipment. Young farmers can work together,” he said.

In regard to trade, Lang said he is for free and fair trade. However, farmers make their investments based on the existing markets. Government changes to existing trade agreements increases the risks for the producers. He said the Secretary of Agriculture would need to actively seek out new markets when the landscape changes.

“There is a large opportunity in the world for things we can grow. We can encourage investments in Iowa that would benefit our farmers,” he said.

As an example of active leadership, he said, beef producers helped a Chinese processing company build a packing plant in their home state of Montana.

Lang is also an advocate of finding new crops to add to the traditional corn and bean rotation.

He said there are local markets for oats, wheat and rye and he would like to pursue those as well as international markets for Iowa’s produce.

“Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids gets their product from Canada. Barilla in Ames gets its wheat from Montana,” he said.

“We’re all in this together, as Iowans, and I believe our best opportunity for success is by working together to get things done,” he said.

In addition to holding office in the Farm Bureau, Lang has also served on Iowa’s Board of Regents and held a chair position on the Iowa Economic Development Board.

 

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Apr 06, 2018 15:30

Ernst visits Packwood business

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Apr 06, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photoU.S. Sen. Joni Ernst tours Dickey Transport in Packwood Wednesday morning.

PACKWOOD – U.S. Republican Sen. Joni Ernst stopped in Packwood Wednesday to tour Dickey Transport and learn about issues facing the trucking industry.

The company hauls refridgerated meat for Hormel, JBS and Smithfield. It has 115 employees and 75 trucks.

 

Trucking laws

Manager Adrian Dickey spoke to Ernst about legislation regulating hours of service, such as when and how long truckers have to rest. He said the legislation has been on the books for a “very long time” and needs to be revamped.

“It needs to be modified for the driver’s needs of today,” he said. “Drivers don’t have the flexibility to rest when they need to rest, and to drive when they need to drive.”

Dickey said having some regulations is a good thing, but they’re so old and the industry has changed so much that the regulations must be changed to reflect modern practices.

Ernst and Dickey spoke about a proposed infrastructure bill.

“It should be non-partisan,” Dickey said. “Everyone wants good roads, bridges and airports.”

Dickey said bad roads cause increased maintenance costs and lead to unsafe driving conditions.

Tariffs

Ernst took a few minutes at the end of her tour to answer questions from the media. Ernst fielded a question about a potential trade war with China, fueled by President Trump’s announcement in March 8 of steel and aluminum tariffs, and China’s promise to levy 15-25 percent tariffs on American goods such as scrap aluminum, frozen pork, soybeans, dried fruits, nuts and wine, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“I’ve spoken to many farmers during my 99-county tour in Iowa, and they’re concerned about their commodity prices,” she said. “We know that China has been a bad actor, and we have to push back against that, and that is what the president is doing. What we don’t want is for the American farmer to be in the crosshair.”

Ernst said one way to ease the pain of the tariffs is to open new markets for American goods outside China. One of those is the European Union.

Continuing on trade, Ernst said she spoke to Trump before Christmas about the North American Free Trade Agreement and its importance to Midwestern states.

“He did not rip it up, but will continue to improve it,” she said.

She spoke about border security as well.

“We want to make sure we don’t have human trafficking over the border, weapons trade, illegal narcotics, those are things we should be concerned about as a nation,” she said.

 

Immigration

Ernst said she has no problem granting visas for those who wish to visit the United States.

“If they have been vetted, and are looking at simply visiting, that should be an OK issue,” she said. “It’s when those visas are overstayed, like a student or a work visa, that there’s a problem.”

Ernst was asked if the number of illegal border crossings could be reduced by increasing the number of work visas issued.

“There’s a lot of debate about that,” she said. “One of the issues I’m concerned about is that we do have a labor shortage. [The current visa system] doesn’t necessarily work with Iowa agriculture.

“We want to make sure Americans are given opportunity to work, but if we don’t have enough labor, we need to look for ways to bring labor in.”



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