Feenstra hosts Farm Bill town hall in Sanborn
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) hosted a town hall with local farmers, producers, and constituents March 15 to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill and other issues. A total of 24 people attended the event hosted by Corey Rozenboom at his Alpha Ag facility southwest of Sanborn.
“I enjoyed meeting with Iowans – including our hardworking farmers and producers – during my town hall to hear their suggestions and priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill,” said Rep. Feenstra. “We covered everything from my work to reauthorize the successful 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and stop China from buying American farmland to the unfair inheritance tax, biofuels production, and international trade. Meeting with Iowans will always be a top priority for me as I travel all 36 counties in my district at least twice a year.”
Feenstra is strategically positioned to affect the Farm Bill, which comes up every five year. “Me sitting on the Agriculture Committee and also sitting on Ways and Means they sort of go hand-in-hand,” he said at the town hall. “When it comes to taxes and the export market from Ways and Means and then commodity and ag markets that happen on the Ag Committee, it’s like two bites of the apple.”
The congressman said debate on the Farm Bill will include the Livestock Tranparency Act and Waters of the US in regard to what are navigable waters. “In the Farm Bill I would love to strengthen those packer laws,” said Feenstra. The feeling at the town hall was that regulatory burdens – both in time and money – go beyond WOTUS alone. “Sometimes more regulation is not best,” said Feenstra. “Especially in Iowa where we know what’s best. We’ve talked to (Ag Secretary Tom) Vilsack about this. Let us farm. Let us do our jobs.” The congressman indicated that some of his fellow members on the Ag Committee have misconceptions regarding Midwest farmers who are advocates for good soil and water. “We’ve got to get them to places like Iowa and Minnesota to show them that we are not the bad actors,” said Feenstra.
At the town hall the congressman mentioned two bills that he has introduced, both of which deal with purchase of Iowa farmland, particularly by adversaries of the U.S. Said Feenstra, “The first says we should not have any foreign interest buying land that you can produce energy on (restricting the sale for security reasons.) The second authorizes investigation of these purchases before they happen. Where’s it located? What is the reason? Who’s the purchaser? I believe Iowa farmland belongs to the Iowa farmer.”
Feenstra said that with premium cattle being raised in Iowa, he is in favor of not only country of origin labeling but also labeling that shows where the beef coming from even in the United States. “We have to allow the consumer to know what they’re buying so they can have their choice,” stated the congressman. “There’s a lot of discussion in this arena right now working with producers and retailers to put that on packaging.”
Concern was raised at the town hall that, concurrent with the high cost of corn for feed, more land suitable for cow-calf grazing is being turned over to the DNR to go into the CRP program. “We’ve had talks on what we can do to make (CRP) even more local – providing an opportunity for more grazing to take place,” said Feenstra. “We’re trying to work with groups like Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited to see what we can do together. We have to allow cattle to graze on this land. The hot topic will be ‘can we hay?’ with colleagues in Kansas and Nebraska.”
Several suggestions were offered for improving the programs for the dairy industry that are already in place, including the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Feenstra acknowledged that the dairy industry is big but often isn’t talked about as much as the cattle and hog industries and that it also must remain sustainable.
A big part of sustainability is the insurance available through federal programs. In regard to input costs, Feenstra commented, “We don’t have any insurance that shows ‘Here are my input costs. How can I be sure I get the input.’ That’s something we’re looking at. We’d like to put more in the producer’s toolbox.”
The town hall meeting confirmed the belief that biofuels are good for the country’s energy independence and also for the farmers of northwest Iowa. “Biodiesel is a big discussion that I think EPA doesn’t really understand and we have to get them up to speed,” said the congressman. He was also disappointed when an E-15 proposal was removed from pending legislation. Feenstra said he is proposing an amendment to find out who are the people who are voting against E-15. “The petroleum industry loves to talk about it, but they don’t want it,” said Feenstra. “I want to push this agenda really hard with my own party.”
Additionally, Feenstra spoke to deputies from the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office about the scourge of fentanyl in rural Iowa and the need to secure our border.