June 16, 2024

Ernst comments on FAFSA, farm bill

Ernst listens to Iowans' questions during a town hall meeting in Osceola.

OSCEOLA - Senator Joni Ernst conversed with local Iowans in a town hall meeting on Tuesday in Osceola. National issues such as student aid, election validity and the farm bill were discussed.

Ernst gave her thoughts on President Biden’s work with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), calling it “outrageous” compared to what Congress had attempted.

The topic was presented by SWCC President Lindsay Stoaks who was concerned about students who would need federal aid. FAFSA was intended to make receiving federal student aid for colleges and career schools easier with expanded eligibility.

“What we wanted to do was streamline the application to make it simpler for our families and students to apply for federal aid,” Ernst said. “Somehow, someway, the federal government made it so much more difficult.”

Ernst said the three-year timeframe from when funds were allocated for the form to the form’s current unwieldy state show a misuse of funds, and she’s investigating where the money was used.

In addition, Ernst criticized some of the guidelines in the FAFSA, saying they can be unfair for Iowans.

“Farm families or children of small business owners, the way it was changed in the new application process is now those families have to include those business assets,” she said. “Small business assets, your farmland. All of that is treated like it’s a cash asset, like it’s liquid. It cut a lot of our farm kids, a lot of our business owner kids from receiving federal aid. That has to be addressed.”

One question moved the meeting to a discussion on election credibility, asking Ernst if she thought the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” Ernst denied the idea, speaking to the security she helps oversee for Iowa elections.

“I can speak for Iowa, I know our Iowa election system,” she said. “If it is not the best, it is one of the best in the United States. When you go cast your ballot, you know your ballot will be counted and it will be counted fairly.”

However, Ernst all agreed there is fraud in elections. She said justice relies on hard evidence of fraud, criticizing those who make baseless claims. She called those who rioted at the capital during the January 6 insurrection “ridiculous.”

Ernst gave an update on the federal farm bill, which she predicts will not be enacted until 2025. The country will have to seek out another one-year extension to the previous farm bill, which was enacted in 2018, after an extension was granted one year ago.

The bill had been approved in the House but faced difficulties in the Senate. Ernst claimed no Republicans will support the bill without the removal of excess programs currently present.

“What we’re looking at is a whole lot of climate work, the Green New Deal stuff from the IRA and others, that’s being put in the farm bill.” she said. “Folks, it doesn’t belong in the farm bill.”

Ernst said 86% of the bill was focused on additional programs that would mean less funding for farmers. She hopes that Congress will reconvene in the spring with a fresh perspective on the bill, calling the current environment a “stalemate.”

An additional delay will put more strain on farmers across the U.S., even if the programs get an additional round of funding. Ernst said programs such as crop insurance that help farmers in financial trouble will not run at full capacity until a full farm bill is passed.

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.