CEDAR RAPIDS — President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will travel to Iowa on June 11.
His visit is presumably to mark the lifting of restrictions on the use of higher ethanol blends during the summer.
While in Iowa, Trump also will attend a private GOP fundraiser in West Des Moines, according to Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.
“We heard whispers of it, but we got verification just yesterday,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming, I will tell you that right now. It’s kind of a good excitement.”
A presidential visit is not only good for the party, Kaufmann said, but it’s good for Iowa “to be in the crosshairs or the focus of a man that clearly has policies that reflect what’s best.”
So the Trump visit “isn’t just a win for the Republican Party of Iowa, this is a win for the state of Iowa (because) ultimately the president of the United States decides which state he is going to travel to, and he chose Iowa.”
It’s also a political win for the Iowa GOP, Kaufmann said.
“This is caucus season and lord knows the Democrats have had a ton parading through here,” he said on WHO Radio. “We’re going to bring the president in and we’re going to have the best contrast possible, and that is right out of the words of Donald Trump. We’re very, very excited today.”
He believes that Iowa again will be critical to Trump’s electoral success. Trump carried Iowa 51 percent to 42 percent.
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“I can confidently say the road back to the White House or the road to remain in that White House absolutely goes through our swing-state of Iowa,” Kaufmann said. “No doubt about it.”
That puts Iowa in a “very positive place,” Kaufmann said.
“So yes, the president is here because Iowa is important both politically and also to him on a personal level,” he said.
Bolstering his support with Iowa’s farmers, who supported him in 2016, will be important to Trump. The visit comes as his administration is preparing a second round of aid to farmers who have been harmed by the trade war with China. The $16 billion package is expected to compensate corn growers 4 cent per bushel, soybean producers $2 per bushel and wheat growers 63 cents per bushel.
In the first round of trade aid, the federal government paid $1.65 per bushel for soybeans, 14 cents per bushel for wheat and 1 cent per bushel for corn.
Trump visited Iowa last fall to sign a memo telling the Environmental Protection Agency to lift the summertime restrictions on E15 gasoline that contains 15 percent ethanol. The corn-based ethanol accounts for 10 percent of U.S. gas sales, but blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol are restricted during the summer.
Lifting the restrictions would be the latest round in a skirmish between ethanol producers and oil refineries. They’ve been at odds over the Renewable Fuel Standard that requires oil refiners to mix ethanol and biodiesel with petroleum.
Removing the restrictions has become increasingly important to corn farmers as commodity sales to China have fallen as a result of Trump’s trade war with China.
More than one-third of the United States corn crop goes into producing ethanol and Iowa is the largest producer of both corn and ethanol.