This campaign issue was inspired by my travels and interactions with farmers through the state as well as by the memory of Iowa Farmer and world champion Wrestler, Frank Gotch.
The People of the state of Iowa shall have freedom of choice and practice in work and stewardship of the land as they deem in their own personal best interest and judgment.
It seems the current political establishment has no problem with cronyism or corporate welfare. Cronyism plus corporate welfare sets up ideal conditions for crony capitalism. Iowans have been conditioned to accept that it is OK for their leaders to influence and create markets even when there is no clear benefit to a majority of Iowans. These leaders are happy to take credit when a back-room deal has been struck between leaders and national or multinational corporations. They express joy when the concept of eminent domain is abused to pad their or their business partners pocketbooks. I think that it is great when innovative new companies decide to locate in Iowa. I think it is great when the most possible Iowans can find good work for good pay. I do think that we need to take a long hard look at our appointed leadership and at our policies to ensure that, as far as the governance is concerned, that we have a fair playing field for a local start-up and a multinational corporation alike. When our current political leaders want to seek funding they start saying things like, “we are feeding the world”, “ we are fueling the world”, and they start talking about large hog or chicken operations without differentiating between them and a traditional family run farm. The truth is a majority of Iowans now work in industries like medicine, banking and insurance and that due to increased crony capitalism it is becoming harder and harder for a young Iowan to enter the farming business. I believe that this type of crony capitalism can be easily seen in agriculture but I believe that these principles can be applied to state business in general. My fellow Iowans I ask of you to give agricultural freedom a chance.
Iowa is still known for having wonderful soil. When Iowa land was first plowed, the settlers found 14 to 16 inches of topsoil. By the year 2000 the average was six to eight inches. When the prairie plants were plowed under, the soil was to exposed and vulnerable to erosion. Soil erosion is the process of removing soil materials from their original sites by water or wind. Hard rains that wash across bare soil move Iowa’s black gold into gullies and streams. During dry weather winds can carry loose soil across the countryside. If nothing is done to stop the erosion, the rest of Iowa’s topsoil could be gone in the next 100 to 150 years. Collusion between state and federal officials has drastically reduced the number of family farms and increased mono-culture. These actions have created multiple side-effects such as a loss of top-soil, high levels of nitrates in the water, and a decline in the health and numbers of our states natural and native pollinators. I believe that we must gradually work to free the agricultural market so that sustainable family farmers can stand a chance to become good stewards of the land again. What I mean by this, is that we must gradually work to end big agricultural welfare and subsidies, we must allow free market competition so that multi-cropping and cover-copping can compete with mono-culture farming which leaves us with chronic surpluses of things like corn, soy, and hogs. Subsidizing these markets may sound good to people that are in the business of large agriculture but when you break it down to the basics it is taking control of the market and picking and choosing who is going to get paid extra wages for growing what crops. In Iowa we do this to prop up the corn and soy markets, in other parts of the world they do this with crops like rice and opium.
The Governor can say nice things like that we are feeding the world but the truth is that a whole lot of what we are doing is creating ethanol and high fructose corn syrup. Ethanol is a type of alcohol – it’s the thing in booze that makes you drunk. It is also a fuel. Ethanol is used as transportation fuel, either on its own or added to other fuels, such as gasoline. Much of the ethanol in the United States is currently made from corn. The fuel is big business here in Iowa – 47 percent of the state’s corn goes into ethanol, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Let me remind you who won our last Republican Presidential caucus in Iowa. It was a man by the name of Ted Cruz. Cruz takes a very different tack than almost all other Democrats and Republicans that I have seen campaigning here. He is against the RFS. Cruz decries the mandate as a Washington-driven, anti-free market scam that makes people rich. “There’s a reason the lobbyists want the people of Iowa focused on the RFS,” Cruz said last year in Independence, Iowa. “Because as long as the RFS is front and center, it keeps Iowa dependent on Washington.” For the most part I agree with Ted Cruz on this issue and I think that more Iowans than the establishment realizes agree with us on this matter. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a consumer advocacy group, highlights often tragic consequences of long-standing agriculture policies that have showered hundreds of billions of dollars on a small handful of crops including corn and soybeans that are processed into such additives. One being that childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, an alarming public health development that is contributing about $150 billion a year to the overall cost of U.S. health care.
So aside from moving away from subsidizing big agriculture what are some steps that we can do to move Iowa in the direction of agricultural freedom? I believe that we will see many positive results from ending prohibition on hemp growing as well as ending the prohibition on raw dairy sales. We need to reevaluate appointments that make decisions on eminent domain so that this process can proceed as it was originally intended. I believe that we can move the focus away from companies outside of the state receiving welfare and increasing support for items like The Agricultural Assets Transfer Tax Credit, commonly referred to as the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit. I have spoken to many an Iowa farmer that was only able to start farming in the last decade because of beginning farmer programs. We also need to make sure that appointments are made and policy is reviewed to ensure that justice is the same whether you are an individual family farmer or the owner of a large farming operation. I don’t think that you will find a Libertarian that believes you should be able to harm your neighbors or anyone downwind, or downstreams well-being, land and/or property without consequences. I think that you will see a lot more people and/or corporations being taken to court if they do not start minding their runoff, drift, and waste. From my travels and my research I find that the less dependent on the government the farmer, the better steward of the land they are. I think that farmers should be able to utilize hemp as a cash and as a cover crop as they see fit. Hemp can fix large amounts of nitrogen. Used as a cover crop, hemp can improve soil properties, reduce soil erosion, conserve soil water, and recycle plant nutrients. Raw milk has become popular in recent years as part of the local food movement: An estimated 3 percent of the population drinks at least one glass a week. Many of its fans are fiercely passionate about what they see as its benefits. They say they buy raw milk because it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners or the growth hormone rGBH, they like the taste, and they enjoy having a direct connection to the food they eat. Some claim that it helps them avoid allergy problems and/or that it is the only kind of milk that they can drink because they have problems with the homogenization process. I think that, as we do with other potentially dangerous food items, we should allow individuals to decide for themselves what is best for them. A number of states that have allowed raw milk sales did not do so to condone it. Rather, giving people the freedom to choose for themselves also gives public health agencies the power to regulate a market that otherwise exists underground.
Starting the process of moving away from big agriculture subsidies and corporate welfare will allow more and more family farmers to compete again. This will restore prairie, reduce mono-culture, reduce unsustainable cafos, and help our pollinators fight their populations back. Government intervention from both current sides of the aisle has largely created chronic surpluses of corn, soy, hogs, and chickens. Freeing cannabis, hemp, and raw dairy farming will also help smaller farmers compete and grow to become better stewards of the land. I believe that by allowing agricultural freedom to the people of Iowa that we will see a happier and healthier state that can set a positive example for the country for years to come.