Farm, business groups warn Iowa voters of threat of Green New Deal

Corn grows in a field north of Center Point in 2012. (The Gazette)
Corn grows in a field north of Center Point in 2012. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Green New Deal poses a threat of “massive government intervention” in how Iowa farmers produce food and energy in ways that could increase costs in agriculture and manufacturing and, ultimately, for consumers.

That was the message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Farm Bureau to likely Iowa voters Monday night during a tele-town hall. It’s part of the Chamber’s issue advocacy campaign “to highlight the negative effects of the Green New Deal,” according to Chamber Vice President Ashlee Rich Stephenson.

According to the Chamber, an estimated 20,000 voters participated in the tele-town hall. They were described as supporters of free enterprise, which the speaker repeatedly said was the best way to support the innovation necessary to deal with economic and environmental challenges.

“The crux of the Green New Deal is a re-imagining of not only our entire economy or the ag sector or any piece of it, it is a re-imagining of how we do things,” said Daniel Heady, the Iowa Farm Bureau’s national political adviser.

“A government mandate like what the Green New Deal proposes for agriculture simply does not work and will not work here in Iowa,” Heady said. “It would result in massive taxation, an undermining of agricultural practices that help make farmers profitable. It would drastically and negatively change the way we operate.”

It would not only be farmers, said Marty Durbin, who leads the Chamber’s Global Energy Institute.

It would increase costs for household electricity, propane to heat homes, energy used in manufacturing and fuel for Iowans’ vehicles, he said.

“You’re taking cheap energy and making it expensive while we should be taking expensive energy and making it cheap,” Durbin said.

Although the Chamber and Farm Bureau took the next step in their anti-Green New Deal advocacy 16 days before Election Day and both groups have endorsed candidates in Iowa’s federal races, the only mention of officeholders or candidates was when they thanked GOP Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley for their concern and opposition to the Green New Deal.

In Iowa this year, the Chamber has endorsed Ernst, Democratic incumbent Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne in the 1st and 3rd Districts, respectively, and Republican State Sens. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra in the 2nd and 4th Districts.

The Farm Bureau also endorsed Ernst and Feenstra as well as GOP former U.S. Rep. David Young in the 3rd. It did not endorse candidates in the 1st and 2nd Districts.

The worst-case scenario, according to one participant in the hourlong tele-town hall, would be if Democrats win control of the White House, Senate and House.

Regardless of the results, Durbin said, the Chamber will continue its effort to “restore the center” by working with moderate Democrats and Republicans.

If Democrats gain control, Durbin said it appears some of the party’s new members of Congress are likely to come from more moderate and conservative states, “so they will not necessarily be strong supporters of something like the Green New Deal.”

“I’m not trying to minimize the concern,” he said. However, the Chamber has had success in building bipartisan coalitions on energy, infrastructure and even some climate policies with regard to innovation and technology.

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