The race for State Ag Secretary, as you might suspect, features two longtime farmers. Democrat Patty Judge of Albia is seeking a second term as state Ag Secretary. She and her husband ran a cow/calf operation until she was elected Ag Secretary in 1998. Judge used to own a real estate business and was a mediator in dispute between farmers and lenders during the Farm Crisis. Judge was a state Senator for six years, first elected in 1992. She’s being challenged by Republican John Askew, a farmer from Thurman in southwest Iowa who raises white corn and organic alfalfa on 2000 acres. He also owns a small trucking firm and is part-owner of Quality Iowa Maize in Hamburg, which ships food-grade white and yellow corn all over the world. Askew says Judge has failed in the job of being Iowa farmers’ top advocate. Askew says it’s time for more “vision” and not just an agency of “gas pumps and deli scales.” Judge says the number of ethanol plants in Iowa has doubled during her term in office, the biodiesel industry is growing and she’s making do with huge cuts in her agency’s budget. Judge says Iowa agriculture is on the right track, but it’s not a fast process of helping farmers earn more. Both candidates opposed the new livestock regulations which were passed by the Iowa Legislature this spring.
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