NEWTON — More liberal use of the bully pulpit and more trade missions to neighbors of the U.S.: that’s how Fred Hubbell would help Iowa farmers hurting as a result of federal trade policy, the Democratic candidate for governor said Wednesday.
Hubbell visited a rural Jasper County farm Wednesday as part of a campaign tour to discuss how agricultural issues, in particular a budding trade war, is threatening Iowa farmers’ bottom lines.
New tariffs enacted by Republican President Donald Trump’s administration has led other nations to retaliate in kind, causing crop and livestock prices to decline sharply. Pork and soybean, two of Iowa’s top exports, have been particularly impacted.
After chatting with Jasper County farmer Mark Tinnermeier, Hubbell told reporters he thinks Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds — one of his opponents in this fall’s election — is not doing enough to help Iowa farmers who are feeling the pinch of the federal trade dispute.
“We need to step up and defend farmers and defend Iowans, not defend the president,” Hubbell said. “Our governor, whoever the governor is, is elected to represent Iowans. And I think the governor should be doing a lot more to be making it clear how harmful this is in our state.”
Hubbell, if elected this November, said he would be more vocal about the impact the trade dispute is having on Iowa farmers. He would attempt to create a coalition of farm-state governors to implore the Trump administration to reconsider its trade policy.
Hubbell would make more trade trips to Canada and Mexico to ensure continued working relationships with those countries, he said.
“I’m happy to go out to Washington and try to meet with as many people as possible,” Hubbell said. “Let’s go out there and let’s hold press conferences and let’s talk about how harmful it is.”
Reynolds, via an emailed response through her campaign spokesman, said she has led trade missions across the world to promote Iowa products and has traveled to the nation’s capital “to defend free and fair trade.”
Libertarian candidate Jake Porter said a trade war will harm Iowa’s economy.
“As governor, I will be a strong advocate for expanding free trade and opening new markets worldwide for Iowa commodities and products,” Porter said in an email.
Reynolds greeted Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday in Cedar Rapids.
“Nobody wins in a trade war, and the administration knows where we stand. Our farmers know I am fighting for them, because of where I come from and what I have done,” Reynolds said. “Unlike my opponent, I take action.”
Hubbell said he is learning from farmers as he crisscrosses the state. Republicans have charged that Hubbell, a retired businessman, does not have a sufficient background in agriculture to be Iowa governor.
“It’s a learning process, and at the end of the day (farming) is a business like any other business,” Hubbell said, adding that he served 12 years on the board of directors for Pioneer Hi-Bred, now Dupont Pioneer. “You have a product and you have markets and you have to sell someplace and somebody else wants to take your markets away. It’s a competitive, world-wide market. You’ve got input costs and you’ve got revenues and you try to balance those. You have to decide when to sell and when to buy equipment. Those are just typical business issues.”