BOISE — News that Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little will run for governor was welcomed by the state’s farm and ranch industry.
Little, 62, is a rancher and farmer from Emmett who has been active in the state’s agricultural industry his entire life.
“We have an excellent relationship with Brad,” said Leadore rancher Carl Lufkin. “He’s been an ally of our industry. I certainly am going to support him.”
Gov. Butch Otter, who has been Idaho’s governor since 2007 and is also a rancher, has said he will not seek re-election.
Little filed the paperwork necessary to run for governor June 29.
Idaho’s next gubernatorial election is in 2018. Little said he filed now because a lot of people around the state have been asking him if he’s running but they couldn’t officially support him or raise money for his campaign until the paperwork was filed.
Little served in the Idaho Senate from 2001 to 2009, when he was appointed by Otter as lieutenant governor. He was elected to that position in 2010 and has been re-elected two times since.
“Brad has done a good job as lieutenant governor and ... I believe he is an ally for agriculture,” said Meridian farmer Drew Eggers. “I’m pleased personally that he is running.”
A third-generation Idaho rancher, Little owns a ranching and farming operation in Emmett and the family of his wife, Teresa Soulen, has farmed and ranched in Idaho for almost 150 years.
He is a former chairman of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.
“Brad Little is Idaho agriculture,” Food Producers of Idaho Executive Director Rick Waitley told Capital Press in an email. “Being a product of a strong Idaho farm and ranch family, the lieutenant governor understands the important value the industry adds to the state.”
Waitley said Little as a senator and lieutenant governor has interacted frequently with FPI, which represents most of the state’s farm groups. As past president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, Little also sees “the value of the industry when our commodities leave the farm,” he said.
Little said one of his main priorities as governor would be to seek to lighten the burden of federal regulations on Idaho farmers and ranchers.
“Federal regulations are a continual challenge to agriculture,” he said. “We have to make those as painless as possible and push back on a lot of them.”
Little said another top goal would be to ensure the state creates the type of economic climate that allows Idahoans from farm as well as non-farm families to remain in or come back to rural communities that depend on agriculture’s economic contribution.
“I would love to have my legacy be that families in Idaho were able to have their kids stay and come back and thrive here in Idaho,” he said.