Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell and his Republican challenger, state Senator Brad Zaun, met late this morning for their first face-to-face appearance of the campaign. The two differed on a variety of issues, from the bail-outs for Wall Street and the auto industry to whether the federal tax break for soybean-based biodiesel should be revived. 

Boswell addressed Zaun, who does not favor its extension: “We definitely should be supporting those biodiesel plants that are sitting  out there idle, so you’re saying, just, ‘No, we don’t want to do that,'” Boswell said. “…I find that very hard to believe.” 

Zaun shot back: “I respectfully disagree.  You know, when we, as taxpayers, invest $100,000 to $600,000 for each job created, that’s excessive and I want that industry to survive and I want it to flourish.”

Boswell interruped: “You want it to survive, you just don’t want to do anything,” Boswell said, adding, “My goodness.”

Zaun replied: “We can’t afford it anymore.” 

Boswell got in one last statement on the topic:  “Well, we can’t afford not to.”

Zaun also said during the program that he’d consider voting to end direct federal payments to corn and soybean farmers. “I think we need to go through the process and look through what the benefit is to the taxpayers,” Zaun said. “We’re all interested in the lower cost of food, but I think when there’s individuals or corporations that get more money than individual family farms, I think it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Zaun noted that the Iowa Farm Bureau recently endorsed the idea of ending direct payments and using federal subsidies to help farmers obtain an insurance policy that would ensure a farmer gets a certain level of revenue each year. 

Boswell said farm subisides have helped ensure America has a safe and abundant food supply, but Boswell seemed to be open to change as well.

“That’s one of the reasons we’e started the (Farm Bill) hearings way in advance all across the country…and I chair a very important subcommittee that has a lot to do with farmers when it comes to commodities futures, risk management and so on.  We’re going to have to do some drawback, it seems to us — you know, that’s our prediction — so let us get out there to the producers and the processors and say, ‘What do you need the most?'” Boswell said. “And they need that safety net.” 

The two candidates made their comments this morning during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which airs this evening on Iowa Public Television.