Biden ups criticism of Trump trade, ethanol policies in Eastern Iowa visits

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a forum held by gun safety
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a forum held by gun safety organizations the Giffords group and March For Our Lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2019. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Vice President Joe Biden will step up his criticism of Trump administration trade policies during a visit to an Eastern Iowa ethanol plant and speech in Dubuque Wednesday attacking the policies an Iowa supporter says makes farmers pawns in a trade war.

The Biden campaign also released a video of an Iowa farmer who says the ag commodity markets that “took us 40 years to develop Trump has destroyed in less than 20 months.”

The trade war, Kevin Middleswart of Indianola says, isn’t about farmers and the corn and soybeans they raise.

“They’re just using us as a pawn in this fight,” he says.

“Donald’s telling us that we’re gonna win this trade battle,” Middleswart says in the video filmed on his farm. “It’s an easy, easy win. Things gonna be great. Farmers gonna have it better than ever. You know, here we are a year later, you know, they’re not any better.”

Middleswart, who said he had to sell beans last week to pay his property taxes, believes Biden can do what Trump hasn’t been able to accomplish — reach a trade deal with China that will return markets for farm commodities to where they were before the Trump administration.

The trade war is “resolvable,” he says, “but you got to start somewhere. You got to talk.

“We need that balance on the ticket that Joe brings to the table (so) we can get someone elected to get things done. Joe’s been working hard for us and I’m going to work hard for him.”


Jake Braun, the Biden for President state director, said farmers like Middleswart will be caucusing for the former vice president Feb. 3, 2020, because “between sabotaging our biofuel industry and decimating trade markets, President Trump has turned his back on Iowa farmers.”

Biden visit to Big River United Energy, a Dyersville ethanol plant, is timely because the Environmental Protection Administration was holding a hearing on the proposed volumes for 2020 and biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig told the panel that the renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $5.3 billion — or about 3 percent — of Iowa’s GDP, $2.5 billion in household incomes and more than 48,000 jobs

As a result of the small refinery exemptions the EPA has granted under the Trump administration, he said, ethanol plants in Crawfordsville, Merrill and Sioux Center have shut down.

“So goes agriculture, so goes the economy of the state of Iowa,” Middleswart says in the video. “We’re going to be losing money this year. It’s really hurting.”

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