Why You Should Care About The Secretary of Agriculture Primary Election

May 25, 2018

Most of the attention surrounding the June 5 primary election in Iowa has been on Democratic races for governor and three congressional seats. There is also a contested Republican primary for Secretary of Agriculture. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke with IPR Agriculture Reporter Amy Mayer about the race and the job itself. Here’s what to know.

A few highlights:

Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture effects more than just rural Iowa. The position oversees some urban programs like administering money for water quality projects and farmers markets.

There are five Republicans running in their primary. Craig Lang, Sen. Dan Zumbach, Mike Naig, Ray Gaesser and Chad Ingels all want the Republican nomination. Naig is the current Secretary of Agriculture and took over the job when former Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey was tapped by the USDA. Democrat Tim Gannon is the only candidate seeking the nomination for his party.

Republicans are avoiding criticizing President Trump’s Chinese tariffs. There’s been a lot of concern from Iowa’s agriculture sector, across party lines, about the impact of Chinese tariffs on Iowa ag products. Mayer says the candidates are talking about open markets but not hitting the topic head-on.

Secretaries of Agriculture can have a federal impact. “They’re not going to vote on something federally,” Mayer says. “But they can band together to show their support or opposition and have an influence on Washington DC.”