Iowa Secretary of Agriculture hopeful Craig Lang was in Davenport on Monday, pushing for an expansion of the use of cover crops in Iowa, part of what he says is a needed revolution in farming to rely less on corn and soybean production.
Lang is one of five Republicans seeking the party's nomination in the June 5th primary to succeed Bill Northey, who took a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Lang has called for expanding the use of cover crops to 5 million acres within 5 years, saying it would not only provide an environmental benefit, but also greater profitability in alternate markets.
"Farmers need to back off what we've been doing," Lang said.
The use of cover crops grew to 760,000 acres last year, according to estimates.
A former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau who is from Brooklyn in central Iowa, Lang said he believes his goal could be met through leadership, education and a series of pilot projects across the state. Financial incentives would not be used, he said.
Lang spoke to the Scott County Republican Women group Monday, as did others running for the GOP nomination. He stopped by the Quad-City Times for an interview afterward.
Lang also said that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt should be fired.
Pruitt has been criticized by the biofuels industry and its political supporters for Renewable Fuel Standard waivers granted to small refineries.
Some Republicans, like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have been upset at Pruitt over the biofuels issue but haven't called for his dismissal.
But Lang said that some of the credit that Pruitt is being given for things like moving to revoke the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule could have been done by others. Lang said that Pruitt will continue to threaten the biofuels industry. "The guy is an oil man. He doesn't have the best interests of Iowa farmers," Lang said. "It's not going to stop. It's going to continue."
The other candidates in the race are Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who was appointed to fill the remainder of Northey's term, Ray Gaesser of Corning, Chad Ingels of Randalia, and state Sen. Dan Zumbach, of Ryan.
Tim Gannon, a Democrat from Des Moines, is unopposed in the Democratic primary.