Craig Lang, the former President of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation who is a dairy farmer in Poweshiek County, declared that he is running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture on Tuesday.
Current Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who is a Republican, was recently nominated as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture by President Donald Trump. Northey has not yet been confirmed. His confirmation was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week. He awaits a vote by the full Senate, and his confirmation is expected.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will appoint Northey’s replacement for the rest of his current term. He was up for reelection in 2018. With Northey’s expected departure the race for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture has become more competitive.
Lang is the first Republican to declare his candidacy, but he probably will not be the only one. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently said that he would back his grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford). Pat Grassley, who chaired the Iowa House Agriculture Committee and currently chairs the Iowa House Appropriations Committee, has expressed interest in running but has not formally declared.
Tim Gannon, who formerly worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is speculated to run for the Democratic nomination for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
Lang, in his announcement, said he is running to help lead the state to resolve the pressing issues of water quality, soil loss, and a stagnant rural economy.
“We’re all in this together, as Iowans, and I believe our best opportunity for success is by working together to get things done,” said Lang, a former president of the State Board of Regents. “We can be doing a lot more for our state if we bring together the public and private sectors, rural and urban, business and farm interests, our public universities and private colleges to achieve all three goals: cleaner water, healthy soils, and a stronger rural economy. “One way to achieve better health in the soil and improve the economy is by working to create more diversity in Iowa agriculture.”
He plans to make a formal announcement tour at a later date.
The Lang family, which includes Craig’s brother, father and two sons, who are the family’s sixth generation of farmers, milk 650 cows, farm 1,200 acres and run a cow/calf beef operation.
While vowing to bring together diverse groups to bolster Iowa’s agriculture sector, Lang also promised to encourage and stand up for all farmers and agribusinesses. “The fact is, there are groups that want to attack production agriculture, particularly our livestock and poultry growers, and I’ll be a strong and supporting voice to make sure we set the record straight.”
Lang was one of the longest-serving leaders of both the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, where he served as president from 2001 through 2011, and the FBL Financial Group, where he served as chairman of the board for a concurrent term. He also was chairman of the Grow Iowa Values Fund and, under Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, vice chair of the Iowa Economic Development Board.
In addition to being a family farmer, Lang is president of The Prairie Strategy Group, a company engaged in identifying and solving complex challenges in food production, policy, and logistics. Lang is recognized nationally and internationally as a consultant for rural economic development, consensus and opportunity building. While working with the Ministry of Agriculture on agriculture biotechnology in China, Lang signed the first-ever non-governmental organization memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau.
Lang and his wife, Mary, have four grown children and seven grandchildren.