A southwest Iowa farmer has formally declared himself a republican candidate for state Secretary of Agriculture. John Askew of Thurman is the immediate past president of the Iowa Soybean Association. He is a sixth generation farmer who grows several types of grains.Askew, who’s a republican, is critical of republican-led efforts to cut the Department of Agriculture’s budget and curb its authority to promote agriculture overseas and at home.Askew says the state should extend the same tax break to soybean-based bio-diesel that’s in place for corn-based ethanol.Askew graduated from Iowa State University in 1982 with a degree in agronomy.