Washington, DC — On issues ranging from electric cars and ethanol to farm subsidies for billionaires, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst questioned US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack yesterday (Thursday) during a hearing before the Senate Ag Committee.
Ernst, a Republican, says it’s hard to understand why the largest ten percent of farms are raking in 70 percent of commodity payments, and she says critical reforms are needed in how the USDA decides who gets the cash.
Vilsack, a Democrat and a former Iowa governor, says proper procedures are being strictly followed with regards to the millions of dollars in agricultural grants that are being awarded.
Ernst says recent recipients of the USDA grants include a man who’s on the Forbes billionaires list, as well as a South Carolina family that owns major production facilities in five states.
Cattlemen’s Heritage promises to be a regional cattle processing plant that’s planned for the Council Bluffs area. Owners say they’ll hire 800 workers who will process up to two thousand head of cattle per day when the plant opens, tentatively in late 2024. Vilsack says he’s well aware of the endeavor.
Ernst applauded the USDA’s efforts to promote green energy, but denounced what she called an “ardent push toward electric vehicles,” calling Iowa-made, corn-based ethanol a ready-made resource that’s a cheaper energy solution and that’s “very beneficial for our farmers.” Vilsack didn’t address those comments directly.