By John Butters, The JOURNAL
Republican Dan Zumbach, an Iowa State Senator from District 48 and a candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, says he has a talent for bringing people together.
His negotiating skills were tested, he said, when he added a job in the Statehouse in 2012.
?When you are an individual farmer and you run into a problem, you find the best solution and use it,? he said. ?But in the Legislature, problem-solving is collaborative. There is a difference in how an individual solves problems and how the government solves problems.?
Zumbach will compete for the Secretary position against other Republican hopefuls in a June primary election. The ballot will also include party candidates for other state and county offices.
A Delaware County farmer, Zumbach has a lot of experience in problem solving. He was able to weather the farm crisis of the 1980s, a devastating fire in the 90s and a tornado after that. Through it all, he never lost his faith in farming or the value of his labor.
In fact, his experiences led him to understand that he could also serve agriculture through public service as a state senator. Now he wants to bring that networking experience in the Legislature to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture.
?I am a genuine full-time farmer. I am running to serve Iowa. The door has opened when I have the time to serve,? he said.
Zumbach is currently the chairman of the Senate?s Agriculture Committee in addition to other committee positions. His negotiating skills helped write the Water Quality Bill recently signed by Governor Kim Reynolds.
The bill opens a new era in Iowa agriculture by tying government incentives to good industry practices designed to improve the state?s soil health and water purity.
Zumbach believes explanations of legislative initiatives such as the Water Quality Bill could alleviate misunderstandings between urban and rural populations.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Zumbach believes he could improve that process as an advocate of continuing education.
?An education process can remove ?the disconnect? between our urban friends and our rural friends,? he said.
Those outside the industry of agriculture should learn how farmers are better stewards of the land now than in the past and livestock care is more humane today.
?Our new livestock buildings provide the best environment for animals, producers and the environment,? he said. ?Our manure management practices are the best ever.?
For those inside the agricultural community, the Secretary should advocate for the best farming practices and encourage the implementation of the latest technologies, he says.
He would also be a worldwide advocate for Iowa?s farm produce.
?The world looks to the U.S. for food that is low cost and good quality. The U.S. looks to Iowa to produce it,? he said.
One of the keys to that process is developing personal relationships with national and international decision-makers, he said, and letting them know of the United States? commitment to providing a sustainable industry.
A talent for building relationships and a commitment to the business of farming are assets a Secretary of Agriculture needs, he says.
?I have a heart, soul and passion for agriculture,? Zumbach said.