The five Republican candidates who are seeking their party’s nomination for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat support continuing federal subsidies for American farmers.
The candidates appeared this afternoon at a forum in Cedar Rapids sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association and one of the questions they faced was whether federal farm subsidies were “the best use of taxpayer dollars.”
Sam Clovis said farmers need a “catastrophic back-stop” for crop failure.
“That’s one thing that we have to do, because we have to protect the food supply and we have to protect that aspect of the industry,” Clovis said. “As far as other subsidies go, all subsidies should be suspect. All subsidies should be examined because they interfere with the market.”
Joni Ernst of Red Oak said she is “philosophically opposed to subsidies” but supports continuing the subsidy farmers get to buy crop insurance.
“Reality is that with the subsidies, unless we’re eliminating all of them across the board at the same time for every sector out there, then I’ll go ahead and support those subsidies,” Ernst said.
Mark Jacobs said farm subsidies are “absolutely” good public policy.
“My concern is if we didn’t provide that backstop, we would have a lot of family farmers go out of business. This land would not be planted. At the end of the day it would result in lower amounts of food being produced and an increase in food prices for everybody across this country,” Jacobs said.
Matt Whitaker said there should be an upper limit or cap on farm subsidies of $250,000, so corporations don’t get huge farm subsidy pay-out from the federal government.
“I am frustrated beyond example as to how many times corporations go to the federal govenment with their hand out,” Whitaker said. “…I didn’t support the Farm Bill because 85 percent of it was food stamps.”
Scott Schaben said farmers face risk that no other industry faces and that’s why subsidies are necessary.
“Farmers cannot control when and when it does not rain and that is a massive variable that they have in their part of the economy that no one else can match,” Schaben said.
On foreign policy, all the candidates said it was important to take whatever action may be necessary to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed each candidate individually at the start of the forum. Click on the link below to listen to those interviews.
AUDIO of Woodruff with the candidates, 27:00