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Agricultural News

JonasBack East- It is Still a Mess- House Ag Committee Hearing Becomes a Victim of Jonas

Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:30:11 CST

JonasBack East- It is Still a Mess- House Ag Committee Hearing Becomes a Victim of Jonas Agri-Pulse reports Federal workers in the nation's capital are getting yet another snow day today. That's how hard it is to get around the D.C. area in the wake of the weekend blizzard. The House Agriculture Committee postponed a hearing planned today with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. No new date has been set.

President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet at the White House with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to discuss their legislative priorities for the coming months. Obama will be talking to House Democrats at their retreat later this week.

Trump, the anti-Cruz. Agri-Pulse checked in with Iowa’s GOP agriculture secretary, Bill Northey, for his view on the presidential race there. Northey isn’t taking a position publicly either for or against any of the candidates. But he says Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad isn’t alone in wanting to stop Ted Cruz from winning the Feb. 1 caucuses because of his opposition to the biofuel mandates.

According to Northey, some people in Iowa agribusiness are talking about supporting Donald Trump as the best way to stop a Cruz victory. They’re “looking at Trump … not necessarily because he is their ideal candidate, but because they don’t want Cruz to win,” Northey says. That’s saying something, given Trump’s outspoken opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his call for imposing retaliatory tariffs on China, which is a huge market for Iowa’s soybean crop.

Northey says that regardless of the outcome in the caucuses next Monday, the eventual Republican nominee – Trump, Cruz, or whoever -- will have to have a “renewable fuel-friendly policy” in order to carry Iowa in November.

Sanders: I opposed TPP first. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton made their final pitches to Iowa voters last night, fielding questions at a CNN Town Hall in Des Moines. Sanders cited the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an example of his differences with Clinton, who didn't announce her opposition to the trade deal until the agreement was finalized in October. “I didn’t have to think long and hard about opposing" the TPP, Sanders says.

Start from scratch? The current farm bill doesn’t expire until 2018, but an influential conservative group that played a major role in the debate over the 2014 bill is already plotting a shift in its approach the next time around.

The Heritage Foundation pushed hard to split food stamps from farm programs in the 2014 bill, thinking that would break the alliance between urban and rural lawmakers. The tactic ultimately failed. But Daren Bakst, a research fellow in agricultural policy for Heritage, says the group is going to propose re-designing farm programs from the ground up with a free-market approach. “We want to examine what agriculture policy should look like if we were starting today rather than tinkering with existing programs,” he says.

He says the new approach will take into account the current economic conditions in agriculture, as opposed to what he calls the concept of “poor, struggling farmers who can’t make ends meet.” Heritage wants to release its ideas in the first half of this year.

He said it. “If renewable fuels was going to be an issue, it had to happen here. It maybe wasn’t the smoothest, easiest, most non-confrontational way to make that happen, but people certainly know that renewable fuels count in Iowa.” - Northey on the Iowa opposition to Cruz’ ethanol policy.



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