Countdown to Victory: 6 Days
“No one wants to come here,” lamented a supporter of the Francis Thicke Secretary of Agriculture campaign who was happily surprised when our candidate did, indeed, travel to Shenandoah in the southwest corner of the state. Thicke was there to visit BioProcess Algae LLC, a Green Plains Renewable Energy venture created to incubate and commercialize leading-edge technologies for the growing and harvesting of algai biomass.
Afterward, Thicke met with business and civic leaders to further discuss ways Iowa agricultural policy can help revitalize rural Iowa, hit hard by consolidation of agriculture, Iowa’s brain drain, and other effects of industrialized agriculture that have depleted and emptied small towns and counties.
Gregg Connell, the president of the Shenandoah Chamber of Commerce and the former chairman of the Vision Iowa board, said the Secretary of Agriculture should function in a role similar to the director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
“Rural America is not going to survive unless we create our own economic development around agriculture,” Connell said. “As I hear you talking and knowing our needs, it seems to me that the Secretary of Agriculture should essentially be the director of Iowa Economic Development for rural Iowa.”
Connell gets it. So does Francis Thicke.
Iowans generally agree that rural communities are worth fighting for. However, to create places where people will again “want to come,” as our friend pointed out, will take more than just nostalgia for a way of life that was economically vibrant before Big Ag pushed farm families away from the table.
It will take the vision, wisdom and leadership of Francis Thicke.
Imagine an agriculture secretary who uses his authority on the Iowa Power Fund board to advocate for R&D assistance to companies developing the next generation of truly renewable biofuels. Imagine an agriculture secretary who promotes biofuels that use sustainable crops as feed stock, not policies that overstimulate the corn ethanol industry, which incumbent Ag Secretary Bill Northey championed during his tenure, despite economists’ spot-on warnings that the industry was ramping up too quickly and some ethanol plants would fall into bankruptcy.
Imagine an agriculture secretary who encourages the development of on-the-farm energy systems to power agriculture – everything from installation of mid-sized, farmer-owned wind turbines made affordable with feed-in tariff policies to revolutionary technologies that convert wind energy to ammonia that can be used not only as fertilizer, but to fuel tractors with internal combustion engines.
Imagine an agriculture secretary who uses targeted economic revival funding – such as that available through the Iowa Power Fund and other sources – for policy that not makes agriculture more sustainable, efficient and self-sufficient, but also creates jobs, rings Main Street cash registers, keeps schools open, and makes rural Iowa once again a place where young Iowans will want to live and raise families. Imagine an agriculture secretary who will not sacrifice rural Iowa by promoting acceleration of unsustainable industrialized agriculture practices.
Imagine Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Francis Thicke.
Beth Dalbey is the Communications Director for Thicke for Agriculture.