Community Health

Community health is the collective well-being of community members as defined by human health, animal health and economic well-being. A fundamental measure of a community’s health is its population. While a growing or even stable population may be described as healthy, communities in decline are decidedly not. In Iowa, nearly 70 of our 99 counties are suffering from population decline. This is true, in part, because of over dependence on a commodity agricultural system that is fundamentally driven by productivity. Doing more with less, including growing more corn and beans with fewer people. We export our young people to cities and other states where there is opportunity.


As Secretary of Agriculture, John Will…

  • Share a more inclusive view of the role of Secretary of Agriculture to consider broader impacts and opportunities of the office to positively impact food production, nutrition, and land stewardship

  • Work with local communities, urban and rural, the private sector, and state and federal partners to identify growth drivers that can help restore community health and agricultural productivity that is diverse and balanced.

  • Assist local communities in developing new food and agricultural opportunities that can tap into Iowa’s regional markets as well as the 80 million who live within a day’s drive of Iowa.

New Jobs

While we often talk about jobs from a cost perspective, “labor costs are going up,” it’s the employee that is attached to a new job. If we look across the agricultural sector, some of the most attractive segments of new job formation include small business operators, niche markets like Organic producers, urban farmers and specialty producers that serve local and regional markets.


As Secretary of Agriculture, John Will…

  • John will work across state and federal government agencies to look at how Iowa can combine new food and agriculture jobs with nutrition and community health goals, growing more diverse, healthy foods

  • Help facilitate local community working groups that can customize strategies that may be easier to implement and refine in a small population state of 3.1 million.

  • Assist local communities in developing new food and agricultural opportunities that can generate new jobs by tapping into Iowa’s regional markets as well as the 80 million who live within a day’s drive of Iowa.

Freedom to Farm

Freedom-to-Farm doesn’t mean the taxpayer is on the hook to produce farm products regardless of the harm to the environment, or the future potential of our precious god given natural resources. Freedom-to-farm means Iowa ag landowners and farm operators, new farmers and multi-generation farmers, white, black and brown farmers, have the opportunity to farm and with more choice. More freedom. Choices that allow for a better balance of row crop, small grains, working lands, and natural habitat. In John’s vision, freedom-to-farm means that farmers are financially and technically supported in producing a greater variety of crops, grains, table foods, and livestock that drive the overall health of our communities and environment. This requires a new view of our present farm subsidy system that honors and builds on the productive ag capacity of our state, but more broadly rewards landowner and producers for building resiliency and diversity within the system – small scale organic producers, to year-round indoor growers, to large scale commodity-oriented farm operators. A system that is in balance with production, nature, community and new job formation.


As Secretary of Agriculture, John Will…

  • Recognize and Support the Right for All Americans to be supported in their journey as a farm operator if they so chose this noble profession, regardless of their race, ethnicity, land holding status, etc.

  • Focus more attention on expanding Iowa produced table food, and tying that new production to serving the nutritional needs of our school children by expanding opportunities for Iowa school meals to be supplied by Iowa growers