John Norwood is the current Soil & Water Commissioner for Iowa’s capital county. He describes himself as a “Tip O’Neill style Democrat”. He is running to be Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture because he believes the state needs a modern vision for its highly productive but "unbalanced" agricultural system.
“As Secretary, I will protect urban and rural consumers, expand economic opportunities around diversified food and agricultural production, and advocate for the needs of ALL food, grain, and livestock producers. My first priority will be to build urban and rural support around agriculture systems that are built to last – including strengthening the resiliency of our 20+ million acres of corn and bean ground. We must have healthy soil, clean air, swimmable/fishable waters and safe drinking water for everyone.”
He envisions Iowa being a world-class model for communitybased regenerative agriculture in the U.S. with new opportunities for first generation farmers, especially farmers of color. “Farming can be re-imagined to include small acreages, indoor farms, and planned “farm-parks” with infrastructure for processing, packaging and distribution – 80 million live within a day’s drive of Iowa. I plan to work at the county level, at the statehouse, and Washington DC, along with international partners to bring a “big tent” perspective to the role of Secretary of Agriculture. I want to create new opportunities for Iowa while finding actionable and timely solutions to the economic, environmental, system risks and health issues we face.”
Norwood’s professional background includes water utility experience in Boston, as well as experience leading an agricultural land trust in grape, nut, and cattle ranching in California where he worked closely with growers, ranchers, city and county planners to increase the base of irrigated ag while protecting farmland from development. He has also worked in farmbased renewable energy, specialty feeds, and marketing Iowa grown local foods.
Norwood is a small business owner, and serves as a business advisor and board director. He travels the state regularly to work with business owners in agriculture, technology, manufacturing, and related industries. “If elected, I will represent the voices of the many people who have told me they want a balanced vision for Iowa that includes the thoughtful use of state and federal monies to increase access to land and capital while we build a resilient, enduring Iowa for everyone.”
Norwood has an MBA and master’s degree Yale’s Forestry School and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Massachusetts. For the past twenty years, he and his family have resided in West Des Moines.