By. Sen. Chuck Grassley & Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig
Iowans are meeting the coronavirus pandemic with the heartland grit and resilience our state needs to get through this crisis together. As lifelong family farmers, we are prouder than ever to stand shoulder to shoulder with hardworking Iowans who are plowing forward to get us through this public health emergency. Across our state’s farm-to-fork supply chain, Iowans are putting food on our tables and delivering critical supplies Americans need to survive. Iowa leaders in food and agriculture, manufacturing, fuels, logistics, and nonprofit organizations are adapting to extraordinary circumstances to carry out essential functions.
Just as our selfless healthcare professionals are working around-the-clock to care for COVID-19 patients, food and agriculture laborers are on the front lines to make sure food and fuel supply chains in Iowa and across America are functioning and secure.
As crop farmers charge ahead into the spring planting season, livestock producers are putting in longer hours to keep meat, dairy and eggs on the grocery store shelves. As a leading producer of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, meat, and renewable fuels, consumers around the world depend on Iowa to feed their families, stock their pantries and fill their gas tanks. Thankfully, we have the people and resources to get the job done.
On the production floor, manufacturing and industrial workers are lending a helping hand to Iowa agriculture. Iowa companies are leaning on their innovation and problem-solving skills to support food and nutrition — while still putting health and safety first.
Community stewardship defines the renewable fuels industry in Iowa, as well. Renewable fuels producers across the state have shifted production to manufacture hand sanitizer to help meet the needs of Iowa hospitals and local communities. When these companies flagged a regulatory hurdle to doing this, we worked to cut red tape so they could help.
The nationwide efforts to “flatten the curve” and save lives have delivered a financial setback to the renewable fuels industry and to Iowa farmers who were already battling Big Oil for a level playing field at the pump. Idled ethanol and biodiesel plants deliver a damaging ripple effect that includes a lost market for farmers, lost jobs for workers and lost production of the Dried Distillers Grains (DDGS) that biofuels plants deliver to livestock producers as a high-quality feed component. We’re fighting tooth and nail to ensure the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is implemented as the law requires. We strongly support nationwide application of the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling on small refinery exemptions to uphold the integrity of the RFS.
From our leadership positions in the U.S. Senate and as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, there’s no daylight between our efforts to support Iowa farmers and our state’s renewable fuels industry. At the federal level, we’re making the case to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to use the Commodity Credit Corporation funds to help the biofuels industry get through this crisis. We’re also working in lock-step with Iowa’s leaders in our state’s food, agriculture, fuel, and critical manufacturing industries to keep supply chains up and running.
At the state level, that means working with Governor Kim Reynolds to support the entire food and agriculture community. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is providing information to ag producers and businesses while also supporting consumer protection through essential inspections.
At the federal level, this also means holding the line for our cattlemen while minimizing disruptions to the food supply. Protecting the health and safety of employees who work at processing plants is of the highest importance. At the same time, we have to make sure this emergency isn’t giving cover to market manipulation and other illegal activity by meat packing executives. Attorney General William Barr and USDA Secretary Perdue have the authority to launch an investigation into this and we’re glad the USDA has launched its look into price fixing by beef packers. Cattle producers need competitive markets to get a fair price. We look forward to the USDA’s report as soon as possible.
The third phase of federal coronavirus relief provided $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation and $9.5 billion specifically for agricultural producers. Making sure these funds reach Iowa food and agriculture producers and businesses is a top priority for us.
As champions for Iowa agriculture, we’re looking out for our entire food and agriculture community and we’re laser-focused on the challenges and disruptions stemming from the pandemic.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to either of our offices with your ideas, concerns and questions. Together, we will get through this crisis and be ready to tackle the next one that comes our way.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s three-generation farming operation is in Butler County. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig’s family century farm is located in Northwest Iowa.