Bill Northey hears the stories of Iowa farm families as he travels across the state as Iowa’s ag secretary. He witnesses the joy families express as they accept their century or heritage farm des¬≠¬≠ignations at the Iowa State Fair for keeping a farm in the family for 100 or 150 years. And when he travels the state to recognize farmers for their work in agriculture, he thinks about the number of farms along his route, not the miles.

“For some folks, the drive between Cedar Rapids and Des...