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Fairfield dairyman mulls Iowa ag secretary bid

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

Francis Thicke, a grass-based dairy operator from Fairfield, announced last week that he has formed an exploratory committee to advise him on the possibility of running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in the 2010 election.

Thicke and his wife, Susan, are owners and operators of their dairy, process their milk on the farm and market it locally through grocery stores and restaurants.

Citing estimates that more than 80 percent of the $8 billion worth of food consumed in Iowa comes from out-of-state, Thicke said “Growing more of our food in Iowa represents a multi-billion dollar economic development opportunity.”

This potential economic activity could “create thousands of new jobs and help revitalize rural communities in Iowa, as well as provide Iowans with fresh, nutritious food,” said Thicke.

The ethanol industry has been struggling to survive in today’s changing economic climate. “Iowa’s investment in ethanol production has brought economic development to agriculture, and we need to protect that investment,” said Thicke. “However, it is time to reassess, and consider how future investments in renewable energy can be better targeted to profit farmers, and better protect our natural resource base.

Thicke has a doctorate in agronomy/soil fertility and has previously served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. as National Program Leader for Soil Science for the USDA-Extension Service. Thicke frequently speaks at conferences and workshops in Iowa, across the Midwest and the U.S.

a wide range of topics, including local food systems and economic development, ecologically sound animal production systems, organic farming practices, and soil management for sustainable farming.

Thicke has served on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission and the Iowa Food Policy Council at the appointment of Governor Vilsack, and on the Iowa Organic Standards Board at the appointment of Governor Branstad. He currently serves on Iowa’s USDA State Technical Committee.

“I am looking forward to engaging people across the state in a dialogue on opportunities to make Iowa agriculture more prosperous and sustainable,” Thicke said.

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