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Secretary of ag emphasizes drought, meat producer rights

Iowa+Secretary+of+Agriculture+Mike+Naig+spoke+about+agriculture+to+the+American+Society+of+Agricultural+and+Biological+Engineers+club+on+April%2C+2+in+Sukup+Hall.
Katarina Kotek
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig spoke about agriculture to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers club on April, 2 in Sukup Hall.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig visited with students Tuesday, emphasizing a range of key points, including California’s Proposition 12, the challenges facing farmers today and sustainability in the state.

The second-term Republican secretary of agriculture spent part of his Tuesday evening speaking to students in the ASABE club, also known as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers club, starting with challenges currently facing Iowa farmers.

“Here’s a record you don’t want to set. Unfortunately, we’re setting it week by week in the state of Iowa. We have had 195 consecutive weeks of drought in the state of Iowa with at least D1 drought,” Naig said. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor categorizes drought stages from D0 to D4 or from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. He also said another current event facing Iowa farmers is the impact of California’s Proposition 12. The proposition has been considered the strongest animal protection bill in the nation by animal rights activists, but opponents such as Naig are concerned about who it benefits and hurts. 

The proposition prohibits the sale or production of pork in the state of California from suppliers who use confining methods that voters in the state deemed extreme. 

“[It’s] California today, but who is it tomorrow?” Naig said.

Naig also said he simply disagrees with the proposition because he believes that consumers should have choices. Naig said he is not personally a fan of meat alternatives, but he does not believe that they should be banned.

Naig also said that farmers often talk about the weather and markets, but they cannot control either of them. While issues like weather, drought and market influence farmers’ lives, Naig emphasized resilience. Sustainability, he said, is key.

“It gets into things like precision placement, fertilizer, precision planting, putting that seed right where it needs to be so that it can get out of the ground faster, better knowledge, better information, better tools, all of that culminated,” Naig said. 

Naig added that, while there are many issues Iowans are facing today, especially in the agriculture industry, there is no place he would rather be than in Iowa.

When asked by the club Vice President Erin Sobotka, a senior in agricultural engineering, about advice to students as technology advances, Naig brought up his predecessor, Bill Northey, articulating that students need to surround themselves with people who can allow them to learn and grow.

Naig ended his discussion by saying he misses the times when people could still disagree and be friends. 

“We gotta get better at disagreeing. Be nice to each other, would you?” Naig said.

Bailey Adams, an assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and adviser of the club, said the organization often invites members of the industry to speak, ranging from the plant and water space to companies recruiting students.

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    Jackie A | Apr 3, 2024 at 8:23 am

    ‘“[It’s] California today, but who is it tomorrow?” Naig said.’ How about companies adapt to the markets in which you want to stay competitive? This would require adjusting the common practices of factory farming and leveraging the innovation of ISU itself to do so. Otherwise, stop moaning about how people pushing back against harmful tactics, including poorly-mitigated fecal pollution of Iowa’s waterways.

    ‘“We gotta get better at disagreeing. Be nice to each other, would you?” Naig said.’ Look no further than the rise of Mitch McConnell and the Tea Party back ~2009. That was the beginning of the end of civil discourse and compromise.

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