Government

Iowa congressional delegation calls for extension of farm aid

Corn, except for a few heavily damaged stalks, lays nearly flat in a field south of Keystone, Iowa, on Monday, Aug. 10,
Corn, except for a few heavily damaged stalks, lays nearly flat in a field south of Keystone, Iowa, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

A proposed continuing resolution from U.S. House Democrats that excludes funding for farm assistance is drawing fire from the Iowa congressional delegation.

A draft of the resolution to fund the federal government until December, unveiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday, does not include an extension of the borrowing authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation.

If that happens, farm profitability and conservation payments, and pandemic assistance for farmers could be delayed. So far, Iowa farmers have received about one-tenth or $1 billion of the nearly $10 billion paid out through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

In a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Rep. Steve King, and Democratic Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack and Cindy Axne wrote that Iowa farmers “have not only suffered lost markets and disrupted supply chains from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have also been dealing with drought conditions and the destruction caused by the recent derecho, which destroyed thousands of acres of crops.”

Separately, Finkenauer said Congress must replenish the CCC “without delay, just as they must come together on a coronavirus relief package with additional aid for families, workers, first responders and local governments.”

“It’s great she signed on to the letter,” said state Rep. Ashley Hinson, who is running against Finkenauer, “but she should have been screaming about this to her leadership for weeks because we knew this deadline was coming.”

Finkenauer filed an amendment Monday to extend the funding to ensure payments to farmers are not interrupted.

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It’s part of the “political games” Pelosi and Finkenauer are playing with farmer relief payments and derecho disaster aid, Hinson said. She suspects it’s another example of Pelosi giving Democrats in vulnerable districts the opportunity to vote against leadership while the speaker knows she has enough votes to pass the continuing resolution.

“That’s why we need to debate again so the congresswoman can clarify her position on this issue,” Hinson said. She and Finkenauer debated once, but the incumbent has not agreed to more debates.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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