Bellwether Race in a Bellwether Ag State

The Iowa secretary of agriculture race bears close watching by Cooperative Extension agricultural professionals who want to gain a clearer picture of how agricultural  policy will play out over the next few years.

Incumbent Bill Northey, a full-time commercial corn grower whom The Atlantic depicts as an “establishment candidate,” is running against Francis Thicke, an organic beef producer.

“For the food movement, [this race] is the most important this election,” says sustainability advocate and author Michael Pollan, who was quoted by The Atlantic.

In fact, Pollan and other sustainability proponents point to it as a bellwether for the rest of the nation.

Northey, who has received corporate support from Monsanto, Sygenta, DuPont and Wal-Mart, is a major proponent of exporting Iowa ag products.

Thicke, who holds a Ph.D in agronomy and is a vocal sustainability advocate,  has written a free, downloadable book on agriculture:  A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture.   Unlike Northey, Thicke wants to create a food processing infrastructure to ensure that more homegrown food stays in Iowa.

Following is the first segment of a debate between the two candidates held earlier this year.

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