Q: How is Iowa integral to Thanksgiving?
A: As Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator and lifelong family farmer, I take pride in our state’s bountiful harvest and the work put in year round by Iowa farm families and workers along the supply chain to put food on the table. At Thanksgiving time, it’s particularly fitting to talk turkey. Iowa ranks seventh in U.S. turkey production, raising approximately 12 million turkeys each year. Those birds consume nearly 10 million bushels of corn and 108,000 tons of soybean meal, adding value to Iowa agriculture from field to flock to fork. Don’t forget Iowa’s poultry industry also includes egg production where Iowa leads the nation, producing about 16.4 billion eggs per year. Altogether Iowa’s poultry industry employs nearly 12,000 people with payroll exceeding $440 million. Those paychecks contribute to Iowa household budgets and plump up the tax base for government services. That’s why I work hard to ensure our nation’s tax, trade and regulatory regimes allow Iowans to make the most of our agrarian heritage to secure economic prosperity and boost the nation’s food and energy security from one generation to the next. From fighting avian flu to recovering from natural disasters and the pandemic, I am laser focused on the challenges facing our farm economy to strengthen resiliency so our producers, workers, suppliers and processors come out stronger than ever.
During this season of thanksgiving, it’s important to recognize how the food on the table got there in the first place. I’ve made it one of my missions to educate lawmakers and policymakers that food doesn’t grow in the grocery store. The actions and inactions of the U.S. Trade Representative, for example, have tremendous implications for family farmers and the U.S. agriculture economy. For example, the proposal by Mexico to ban genetically-modified corn imports would effectively phase out 90 percent of U.S. corn by January 2024. Currently, Iowa corn growers export 16 million tons to Mexico each year. I’m also continuing my crusade to combat predatory practices fueled by corporate consolidation and promote robust competition and fairness in the agriculture sector of our economy, particularly in the cattle industry where the Big Four packers control 85 percent of the market. Cattle producers deserve a fair price for their high-quality beef and consumers deserve to pay a competitive price, especially as soaring food inflation under the Biden economy empties their wallets at the grocery store from one week to the next.
Q: How will food inflation impact prices for this year’s Thanksgiving meal?
A: According to the American Farm Bureau’s annual survey, the cost of a Thanksgiving meal will be the highest ever. The average cost for a 10-person Thanksgiving feast will cost $64.05. That’s a 20 percent increase over last year and an eye-popping 40 percent increase from 2020. Consumers buying staples for the Thanksgiving feast are paying double-digit increases for turkey, stuffing, pie crusts, dinner rolls and more. As the purchasing power for consumers shrink, farmers also confront rising input costs for fuel and fertilizer and the trucking industry is paying $5/gallon for diesel to deliver the goods to retailers and homes across the country. Like many Iowa families across the state, I’m looking forward to gathering together for the Thanksgiving feast on our family farm. Although it’ll cost more, I look forward to the annual meal with all the fixings, especially Barbara’s apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Before we dive into the preparations, gather around the table and say grace for the meal and for the people celebrating together to enjoy the feast, let’s also remember those less fortunate. For those in a position to help neighbors in need, find more information about Iowa’s six food bank partnerships at https://www.iowafba.org to help combat hunger and fill frontline pantries in your local community.
Q: What are you thankful for this year?
A: Each and every day, I wake up thankful for the blessings of faith and family which provide immeasurable support and sustenance for me to continue public service. I also give daily thanks for the inalienable rights as Americans for the enjoyment of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the people of Iowa who reaffirmed their trust in me and my work on their behalf as their U.S. Senator. I will continue to honor this public trust by upholding my oath to protect and defend the Constitution and bear allegiance to the values and needs of my state as a loud and proud voice for Iowa in the U.S. Senate.