Ernst, Naig state concerns during Tele-Town Hall

Renewable fuels made from corn and other agricultural commodities were among the topics of a Tele-Town Hall Feb. 2. (Express file photo)
Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

     Concerns about how the new presidential administration might affect the agricultural industry were at the forefront of an hour-long Tele-Town Hall, featuring Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, and held virtually Feb. 2.

     Ernst spoke at length during the audio-only event about the importance of farmers, fighting for the livelihoods of Iowans, and the challenges producers are facing today.

     “Farmers truly are the backbone of our rural communities,” Ernst said in her opening remarks. “I’m proud to always fight tooth and nail on your behalf.

     “As an eternal optimist I am hopeful we can work together with the new administration in a bipartisan way to deliver for Iowa farmers and the American people. Right now I am working with folks in both parties on some of the issues that are critical for our state. Like ensuring that we always uphold the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to support our ethanol and biodiesel producers, and fighting against burdensome regulations that impact our farmers.”

     Naig, in his opening comments, agreed: “Certainly these are consequential times for agriculture in this country. We have a long list of important issues.”

     The RFS was a recurring issue in the discussion.

     “Unfortunately, in just his first couple of weeks on the job, President Biden has made some concerning decisions,” Ernst said. “He ordered the federal government to begin a transition to electric vehicles. I believe this is the wrong path to go down and could have detrimental impacts on Iowa’s renewable fuel industry.

     “We are urging this administration not to give in to the misguided political demands of the left, and to change course by instead promoting biofuel.”

     Naig came back to this topic often in answering questions from the online audience.

     “We should never talk about climate or carbon neutrality without thinking about biofuels or renewable energy,” Naig said, later adding: “Today we are delivering low-carbon fuels to the marketplace -- biodiesel and ethanol. We know that right here (there is) home-grown, renewable energy that is oftentimes refined in our small communities. That means jobs and economic impact to our state. And that should not be lost in this conversation. We should not sweep that away in the name of what’s new.”

     Ernst made repeated references to Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulations that were put into effect by the Obama Administration and later eased by the Trump Administration. She and Naig both expressed concern about stricter regulations returning.

     One listener asked an online question: “Is WOTUS really going to surface in an unkind way for agriculture?”

     Ernst responded yes.

     “What we don’t want to go back to is this heavy-handed over-regulation by the federal government,” she said. “Now it’s critical we uphold the new, more flexible rule, and prevent the Biden Administration from reverting back to the old and misguided WOTUS regulations. It really is very detrimental to agriculture, having the federal government telling you what you can and cannot do on your own property.”

     Naig came down on the same side: “We must hold the line on this important flexibility that you mentioned,” he said. “(The old rule was) the quintessential overreach of federal government.”



Subscriber Login