DES MOINES, Iowa, October 20, 2010 – Former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, best-selling author, and national columnist Jim Hightower has endorsed Francis Thicke (pronounced TICK-ee) in Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture race, and in doing so harshly criticized incumbent Bill Northey.
“In Iowa’s election for Secretary of Agriculture, the choice couldn’t be clearer. On one hand you’ve got Francis Thicke, who has worked as a dairy farmer for 27 years, selling his products locally and actually building the economy. On the other hand, you’ve got Bill Northey who has led a team that invested nearly $1 million in Brazil’s ethanol production. In a world where money talks, maybe Bill Northey should be running for Secretary of Agriculture in Brazil.”
Hightower’s comments were in reaction to the investment of nearly $1 million in Brazilian ethanol by Ag Ventures Alliance, an organization on whose board of directors Northey sat. At the time, Northey defended the action, saying that Brazilian ethanol would not compete with Iowa-produced ethanol.
However, at a time when, according to Citigroup analyst David Driscoll “three out of four ethanol plants are in danger of being shut down,” Northey’s statement is out of touch with the current economic climate.
Thicke, a dairy farmer from southeast Iowa, commented:
“I’m proud to have received Mr. Hightower’s endorsement. At a time when our industries are hurting, we have to focus on building local economies and growing our way toward energy independence. If Secretary Northey truly believes the future of ethanol is in Iowa, shouldn’t his investment portfolio reflect that?”
On the ethanol tax credit, Thicke said:
“Much has been made about my support of ethanol. Let me say today, unequivocally, I am in favor of renewing the ethanol tax credit, which is currently under review, and the biodiesel tax credit. In addition, I support investing in the next generation of biofuels.”
Francis Thicke has been a full-time farmer for 27 years, is a scientist with a Ph.D. in agronomy/soil fertility, and has worked in the past at the USDA in Washington, D.C., where he served as National Program Leader for Soil Science. A frequently consulted national expert on agricultural sustainability, Thicke and his wife, Susan, own and operate an 80-cow organic, grass-based dairy near Fairfield, where they process milk on the farm into bottled milk, yogurt and cheese marketed locally through Fairfield grocery stores and restaurants. For additional information, please visit www.FrancisThicke.com.