I recently read a press release from Senator Joni Ernst, “Don’t mess with the WOTUS Rule,” (Jan. 27). The gist of the release is Senator Ernst desires to not have the WOTUS rules reinstated after President Trump relinquished implementation for most of the WOTUS rules. The WOTUS rules impose many restrictions on farmers’ use of land in an effort to regulate water from the farm land.
Some evidence is now emerging that economic and technological developments are developing which may curtail the demand especially for corn. Currently, about 50% of Iowa’s corn is used to produce ethanol (Iowacorn.org). Yet, the New York Times on Jan. 29 reported that General Motors will be producing most car models as EV (electric vehicles) by 2035. Further, other reports this winter from multiple news outlets suggest that Ford, VW, Toyota, Nissan and Daimler/Chrysler are all planning to start producing EV models in the United States by at least 2025.
The federal government has provided substantial support to maintain row crop farming in Iowa. Ernie Goss Creighton University reports that 30% of farm income in Iowa during 2020 came from federal payment to farmers to enhance farm fiscal stability. Successful Farming (June 2020) quotes Steve Johnson, ISU economist, that Iowa corn farmers are receiving $95 per acre from federal subsidies. The evidence suggests that for corn production to be profitable federal incentives are needed.
After reading Senator Ernst’s press release and reviewing some recent fiscal and technology evidence, it is clear to me that it is time for Senators Ernst, Chuck Grassley and Representative Ashley Hinson to engage in deep conversations related to the future of crop price supports. These conversations should include how to move federal farm policy to a more sustainable and effective path that would represent the fiscal and conservation needs of farmers and the general public. This will involve greater incentives for farmers to engage in long term conservation practices that enhance water quality, soil fertility and farm fiscal stability.