Grassley is running for Senate

1. What is the most important thing that needs to be changed in the 2012 farm bill?

The farm bill is a safety net for farmers. It’s not something that guarantees profitability to anybody. Any changes that need to be made have to emphasize the safety net approach and an understanding of the importance of agriculture to our overall Iowa economy. That makes it much more important to have somebody like me in the United States Senate to be part of that debate because of my family farm background. I’m involved with my son on a crop share basis.

Right now, I’ve got no direction that I could say that I’m going in regard to a farm bill except to preserve the safety net approach that we’ve had for six or seven decades. That approach is that there are a lot of things farmers have no control over that affect their business such as bad weather, international politics, war, domestic politics and unfair competition. That lack of control calls for a safety net.

2. Do you think there need to be changes made to federal dairy policy?

I don’t think I would suggest any specific changes to any program right now except to say that one thing that really helps any commodity is the extent to which the people within that commodity have agreement among themselves. I would suggest to the extent there are special problems with dairy and there are problems with dairy that the dairy industry be united in what it asks Congress to consider.


3. What should be the nation's long-term strategy for renewable fuels including ethanol and biodiesel? Do you favor extension of the biodiesel and ethanol tax credits?  

I enthusiastically support renewal of the biodiesel and ethanol tax credits. When it comes to alternative energy, you don’t pick and choose. Any of the above ought to be a part of our package. We want to reap all the benefits we can from domestic fossil fuels and then all sorts of alternative energy. I’m author of biodiesel and wind energy, and some biomass. We also have to consider conservation of all energy.

4. How can the federal government support the economic engine of U.S. agriculture?

Maintain the safety net so that there’s some continuity of stability to farming particularly from the standpoint that there are a lot of things beyond the control of the family farmer. Second, promote international trade because we export about a third of our agricultural production. Eliminate nonsense regulations like the fugitive dust rule to name one. Promote value added agriculture. There are several ways you can promote value-added agriculture. I authored a program that gives financial incentives to marketing beyond the farm gate. I think it has been a successful program.

5. How do we begin to reduce the federal deficit?

The first thing the new Congress has to do on Jan. 3 is get busy on that. I would go back to pre-stimulus spending as a benchmark and then I would not increase expenditures more than the rate of inflation.

6. What steps do we need to take to insure free and fair markets for family farmers?

I’m not sure we need new laws on competition. We need to enforce existing laws. We have some new regulations coming out of the ag department on competition. They’re under review right now, but I think they’re a step in the right direction. We need to have the attorney general enforce existing antitrust laws to a greater extent, and we need to have the secretary of agriculture do greater enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.


7. How do we address the shortage of skilled health professionals in rural areas?

We give incentives to people who go into primary care. The best way to do it is to pay down some of their debt coming out of medical school if they go to underserved areas.

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