BROOKLYN, Iowa – Dairy farmer and former Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang announced his campaign for Iowa secretary of agriculture today, saying he is committed to bringing together Iowans to improve the state's soil health, water quality and rural economy.
“As we look forward the coming new year, I look forward to bringing Iowans together to tackle the issues that are most important to the future not only of rural Iowa, but our entire state. Those issues are our state’s soil health, water quality and rural economy. How we address each one 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 during an announcement at his family’s dairy and beef operation in eastern Poweshiek County.
Lang, who also served as president of the State Board of Regents, will seek the Republican nomination for the post held by Bill Northey since January 2007. Northey is awaiting Senate confirmation as U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary of farm production and conservation.
Noting the pressing need to protect and regenerate Iowa’s 29 million acres of farmland, Lang said, “We can reverse the loss of our precious soil and improve overall soil health by bringing back the bovine 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. Iowa farmers seed an estimated 1 million acres of winter cover crops. My goal is to increase that number to 5 million acres in five years and continue on from there.”
He pledged to expand current efforts to promote trade, especially to China, which has reopened its markets to U.S. beef. “I will work to promote more agricultural sales in India and other Asian countries, too. And, I will work to create more ownership in the local manufacturing of the products we raise, 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,” Lang added.
Lang also vowed to bring together diverse groups to bolster Iowa’s agriculture sector. “We’re all in this together as Iowans. 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,” he said.
“Let’s embrace our challenges and make the most of our opportunities. Let’s recognize and reward the hard work and commitment of Iowa’s farmers and agri-businesses. And, let’s set our sights on being the leader nationally and internationally in soil health, water quality and a sustainable, vibrant rural economy.”
Lang and his two sons, who are the family’s sixth generation of farmers, milk a 700-head dairy herd, farm 1,200 acres and run a cow/calf beef operation.
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 bio-technology 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 three grandchildren.