Iowa political reaction to final passage of Farm Bill

All four Iowans voted yes as the U.S. House sent a new five-year Farm Bill to President Donald Trump on December 12. A day after passing the U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, the conference committee agreement sailed through the lower chamber by 369 votes to 47 (roll call).

Farm Bills have typically received strong support from both parties, thanks to a grand bargain struck decades ago, putting food assistance and agriculture-related subsidies and programs in the same legislation. This year’s initial House bill was an exception, as Republicans tried to impose work requirements on Americans in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. House and Senate negotiators wisely removed that language from the final version.

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Grassley, Ernst part ways on five-year Farm Bill

The U.S. Senate approved a new five-year Farm Bill today by 87 votes to 13, sending the conference committee compromise to the U.S. House. The final version rejected efforts to undermine food assistance programs, which House Republicans had approved this summer. Provisions affecting conservation, the environment, and rural communities were a mixed bag; the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Center for Rural Affairs summarized the key points.

Iowa’s senators have rarely voted differently in the past four years, especially on major legislation. But today Senator Chuck Grassley was among the thirteen Republicans to oppose the new Farm Bill. Though he acknowledged some positive features, Grassley could not get past the failure to impose “hard caps on what any one farmer can get,” a reform he’s advocated for many years. He also blasted a “new gimmick” that “makes more subsidies available to the wealthiest farmers and many non-farmers.”

In contrast, Senator Joni Ernst hailed a “farmer-focused” bill containing several bipartisan provisions she co-sponsored.

I enclose below a video and transcript of Grassley’s speech explaining his vote, as well as Ernst’s full written statement on the bill.

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Kurt Friese walked the talk and sucked the marrow out of life

Mike Carberry remembers his friend and fellow Johnson County supervisor Kurt Friese, who was also an occasional guest author at Bleeding Heartland. -promoted by desmoinesdem

“Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.” –Paul Wellstone

A friend posted this on Twitter last Thursday evening and I reposted it. Friday afternoon our world was rocked by the news of the death of Kurt Friese. I immediately thought that quote was perfect for my first post about my dear friend, colleague, and comrade in arms.

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Iowa can learn from other states on nutrient-driven water pollution

John Norwood is a candidate for Polk County Soil and Water Commission. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Nutrient leaching from land use activities is a national issue. Solutions require systems thinking and robust financial support.

In some surprising news this week, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate with three months remaining in his term, fired his state’s Agricultural Director David Daniels over his slow response to Lake Erie algae. The algae are feeding on nutrients from fertilizers that drain into the lake and fuel these blooms. [Note to readers: In the State of Ohio like many others, the Governor appoints the state’s Agriculture Director.]

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IA-01: What oil and gas investments is Rod Blum failing to disclose?

Linn County constituent Caleb Gates found inconsistencies on Representative Rod Blum’s recent personal financial disclosure forms. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Members of Congress should serve “we the people.” Because U.S. House members make laws and have access to privileged information, federal law requires them to disclose their financial investments, income, and liabilities every year. According to the U.S. House Ethics Committee, members of Congress must also file a Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) every time they sell, purchase, or exchange more than $1,000 of any stock, bond, or security. This PTR must be filed within 45 days of the transaction.

Representative Rod Blum seems to believe these rules do not apply to him.

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IA-Gov: Notes on the final Hubbell-Reynolds debate

Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell debated for the third and last time today in Davenport. Too bad not many viewers are likely to tune in at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, because the discussion was yet another study in contrasts. For those who prefer a written recap, I enclose below my detailed notes. Click here and here for Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the first two Hubbell-Reynolds debates.

As during the second debate, journalists kept the candidates on topic and within the time limit, so kudos to moderator David Nelson of KWQC-TV6 and panelists Erin Murphy of Lee Enterprises, Forrest Saunders of KCRG-TV9, and Jenna Jackson of KWQC-TV6.

Both candidates recycled many talking points from their first two meetings. My impression was that Reynolds performed about equally well in all three debates, while Hubbell improved each time. For instance, after Reynolds noted that Iowa had moved up in mental health rankings three years in a row and was now rated sixth in the country for mental health, Hubbell pointed out that the study the governor cited covered the years 2013 through 2015. That was before the Branstad/Reynolds administration closed some mental health institutions and privatized Medicaid, which has led to worse care for thousands of Iowans.

For those who prefer to watch the replay, KCRG-TV posted the video in a single file, which is the most user-friendly option. You can also find the debate on KWQC-TV (with closed captioning) and WOWT-TV’s websites, but you will have to watch a series of clips, with advertisements before each segment.

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