Photo courtesy of Congressman Rod Blum’s office.

This week’s questions come from Grinnell and Cresco. Would you like to submit a question to me? You can email me here, tweet me at @RepRodBlum, or connect with me on Facebook

Lance from Grinnell Asks: Is the Administration working to increase our trading partners? We can grow it and produce it, but we need more markets.

Great question, Lance. The Administration’s goal is to expand markets for U.S. agricultural products and ensure American farmers have buyers for their goods produced across the globe. Over the past year, the Trump Administration has engaged many nations in negotiations and taken action against those countries who unfairly restrict access to U.S. producers. For example, Canada has unfairly limited market access to U.S. dairy producers. The U.S. is strongly negotiating to open up this market and I am confident this will be resolved soon. Mexico has agreed to a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S., which will allow for expanded access of U.S. agricultural goods to Mexico and ensures zero tariffs on these products. The European Union has agreed there will be no trade war as our deals are negotiated, and new deals with South Korea and Australia have already been finalized. I am confident that China will be resolved in the next six months, and I trust our President is working in the best interest of our country in the long-term. I look forward to seeing how these improved trade deals with countries around the world benefit farmers and agriculture in the First District. 

Sheila from Cresco asks: Are there work requirements in the farm bill passed through the House?

I’m glad you brought this up, Sheila. Iowa is experiencing a labor shortage; many companies cannot find workers to fill vacancies and meanwhile, our prospering economy is creating more and more jobs to be filled. To ensure that those currently struggling with unemployment have a path towards self-sufficiency, the farm bill passed through the House establishes a work requirement for work-capable adults (aged 18-59), with exemptions for the caretaker of a child, those who are pregnant, and those who are mentally or physically disabled. For at least 20 hours per week, work-capable individuals must work, participate in a work program, or participate in SNAP Employment and Training, in order to receive SNAP benefits. I believe that those who are physically and mentally able to work, should be working. 

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