April 17, 2024

Ernst promises support to rural Iowa

Senator Joni Ernst gave answers to rural Iowans about their concerns during Monday's visit to Lenox.

LENOX - On Monday, Senator Joni Ernst hosted a town hall meeting in the Lenox Community Center to discuss a variety of community issues.

Themes of rural abandonment by the federal government were laced in the questions given to the senator.

Daniel Coy, the president of the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Postal Supervisors expressed the need for federal support of the postal service. With worries about rural post offices slowing services and potentially closing, a change could be needed.

“I’m asking for your input and help on the oversight,” said Coy. “The post office was founded as a service organization. We’re now being run as a profit center for the post office.”

Ernst agreed and said she’ll look into the issue. “If the USPS is going to be anywhere, it should be in the rural areas,” she said.

Worries about the federal Farm Bill have increased as the piece of legislature continues to drag in Congress. Ernst claimed that the country would not see a new Farm Bill until spring of 2025.

The slow walk of the bill was blamed on the partisan status of Congress by Ernst. She criticized a ballooning cost of the bill with no extra support, comparing the proposed Farm Bill’s $1.5 trillion budget with the previous bill’s budget of $890 billion.

“We have nearly doubled the cost of the Farm Bill,” she said. “There has not been an increase in what is going to the farm programs. The farm programs make up 14% of the Farm Bill.”

The dragging of the bill has put strain on the coverage of the previous bill which was enacted in 2018 and meant to end in 2023. A one-year extension of the bill was granted, but problems still remain.

“Costs to produce have changed significantly over the last five-six years,” said Ernst. “We know we need to modernize the Farm Bill and focus on the farm programs, but until we actually get a little bit of give from the other side, it’s probably not going to happen this year.”

Ernst said the country has a $39 billion agriculture trade deficit. With the products available in Iowa, Ernst said this shouldn’t happen.

“We have an abundance of agricultural goods and products that we should be getting in to other countries, and we are not,” she said. She says that getting agriculture products overseas would help solve this issue.

California’s controversial Proposition 12 legislature was also an issue brought up during the meeting. Prop 12 is a piece of legislation that gave numerous regulations to how farmers take care of livestock if they want to do business in California.

Regulations include requiring farmers to give sows, or mother pigs, at least 24 square feet of space per animal and removal of cages for laying hens.

California is a major market for these food products, putting pressure on farmers across the country to conform to the rules. Rural Iowans cited the increased costs of food goods as coming from upholding the higher standards of production.

Ernst offered her condolences to farmers and predicted a rough patchwork of similar legislature across multiple states. She also criticized the dissonance between the California legislatures and greater rural Americans.

“I am absolutely shocked that someone walking along Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, knows anything about animal husbandry,” she said. “Yet, these are the people that are voting, and telling us here in Iowa, in Nebraska, in Kansas, Missouri, you name it, telling us how to do our jobs.”

The production of renewable fuels was also discussed, with Ernst wanting to keep production of these fuels within the US.

Other topics involved securing the southern border of the US, federal worker pay and accountability, robocalls, and student loan forgiveness.

Nick Pauly

News Reporter for Creston News Advertiser. Raised and matured in the state of Iowa, Nick Pauly developed a love for all forms of media, from books and movies to emerging forms of media such as video games and livestreaming.