Polk County Soil and Water Commissioner Sherrie Taha announced her candidacy for Iowa secretary of agriculture last month and has been appearing at Democratic events around the state in recent weeks. Her campaign is on Facebook here. To my knowledge, there isn’t a campaign website yet.
Taha’s central message is simple: “A healthy Iowa begins with healthy soil.” Protecting that soil will reduce input costs for farmers while producing cleaner water in Iowa and downstream. That basic truth seems to be lost on the incumbent Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Despite evidence that Iowa’s world-class topsoil, a non-renewable resource, is “floating away” at an alarming rate, Northey has resisted any regulation aimed at reducing runoff into waterways. Instead, Northey promotes voluntary efforts, which may not be applied where they are most needed to keep topsoil in place. The incumbent also opposes any numeric standards which would indicate whether the state’s strategy to reduce water pollution from farms is working.
Taha will have an uphill battle against Northey, who was narrowly elected in 2006 and easily re-elected in 2010. The incumbent will have strong financial backing from interest groups that profit from current conventional agricultural practices. A far larger group of Iowans would benefit from Taha’s plan to do more to protect farmland and clean water. After the jump I’ve posted the introductory piece of literature from her campaign, which highlights her priorities and provides a short bio.