Democratic presidential hopefuls tout agriculture at Progress Iowa Corn Feed

10 Democratic presidential candidates pitched their campaign ideas, including revitalizing the agricultural industry, in the fifth-annual Progress Iowa Corn Feed.


Katie Goodale

Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, addresses crowds during Progress Iowa Corn Feed at The Newbo City Market in Cedar Rapids on July 14, 2019. 11 candidates came to speak with supporters and meet fans.

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS — Ten Democratic presidential candidates gathered at the Progress Iowa’s Corn Feed on July 14 at Newbo City Market, where candidates pitched messages covering agricultural issues in accordance with the corn-theme event.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio called for aggressive agriculture policy centered on regenerative farming, a sustainable-agricultural approach, to help ease flooding and climate change.

“Here in Iowa, I will be releasing in the coming weeks a robust plan on how we convert our food system and our agriculture system over to regenerative farming so we can address the climate needs by putting carbon in the soil and making sure everybody has access to fresh, healthy foods,” Ryan said during his speech.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota addressed the economic effects of President Trump’s trade policies, which have taken a toll on Iowa’s agriculture sector. She vowed to continue to stand up for rural communities.

“[Trump] told our farmers he’s going to give them a good deal,” Klobuchar said. “Instead, they got a trade deal, and they’ve got him granting secret waivers to oil companies that hurts our biofuels industry in Iowa.”

After China imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products in July, Iowa’s agriculture industry took potential $600 million hit last harvest season alone.

Christine Gust of Hiawatha said she thinks most of the Democratic candidates oppose the trade war with China, and she hasn’t seen one particular candidate stand out from the pack in terms of agricultural issues.

“I think that our farmers in the U.S. need to be able to earn a living, essentially, and have a profit strategy that doesn’t rely on subsidies, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Gust said.

RELATED: Iowa soybean farmers feeling the heat of tariffs

Greg Griffin of Anamosa said a new president needs to repair damage done from the trade war, which, he believes has only harmed the U.S. foreign relationships and agriculture industry.

The Republican Party of Iowa released a statement July 12 commenting on the then-upcoming Corn Feed, highlighting the Trump administration’s role in stimulating Iowa’s corn industry through securing year-round access to E15 ethanol fuel.

RELATED: Iowa Trump rally highlights ethanol expansions

“At the Corn Feed, 2020 Democrats will tout a rainbows and uni-corns agenda, but their actual agenda would cripple Iowa’s agriculture industry,” Iowa GOP spokesman Aaron Britt said. “The far left’s socialist, multitrillion dollar environmental policies, combined with their inaction on the [new Canada/Mexico/U.S> trade deal], would devastate Iowa corn-growers — and you can take that one to the elevator.”

Many of the candidates who were present at the Corn Feed, such as Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, author Marianne Williamson, Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, among others, have consistently polled in the bottom half of the 24 candidates.

Kelly Allen of Cedar Rapids, who is undecided, said even candidates who are currently falling behind the pack or are not easily recognized are still an important addition to the political dialogue.

“Hopefully, even if they don’t become the candidate, they affect the Democratic platform and push some policies that we really need to be looking at,” she said.