A Democrat farmer from west central Iowa will face a Republican farmer from northwest Iowa in the contest to become Iowa’s next Secretary of Agriculture.
Bill Northey of Spirit Lake won the GOP nomination for Ag Secretary. Northey says his experience in trade policy and ethanol policy from his service as a leader in the National Corn Growers Association as well as his status as a farmer were factors in his victory.
Northey beat challenger Mark Leonard, a cattleman and banker from Holstein. Leonard says his son will be playing college football in the fall, and now he won’t have to worry about missing games. “If this was not what God had called me to do, then I need to make certain that I do what I was intended to do,” Leonard says. “It looks to me like that’s raising cattle and being with my family and helping people through the banking.”
Denise O’Brien, an Atlantic farmer and founder of Women in Food and Agriculture, is the Democratic nominee for Ag Secretary. “Right now we’re going to regroup and take a deep breath and sit down and do some strategy,” O’Brien says. “I think it’s going to be a winning effort in November.”
O’Brien beat Dusky Terry, the son of the late Dixon Terry, a farm activist from Greenfield. The younger Terry has worked for Governor Vilsack for the past eight eyars. “Iowans recognize Denise O’Brien’s experience and her advocacy over the years,” Terry says. “I’ve had a conversation with her and I’m staying true to my word. I told her I would support whoever came out of the Democratic primary and will work for them and I intend to do that.”
Current Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge — the first woman to be elected to the post — did not seek re-election. She ran for governor but dropped out of the race when fellow Democrat Chet Culver offered her the role of his Lieutenant Governor running mate.