Staff Columnist

Trump mixes fuel with fakery

President Trump throws out hats that say
President Trump throws out hats that say "Make our farmers great again!" after the Roundtable Discussion on Workforce Development at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa Thursday, July 26, 2018.

President Donald Trump couldn’t simply come to Iowa and deliver some good news to farmers and ethanol producers. He had to mix our biofuels with his own unique blend of inflammatory snake oil.

“The Democrats will end ethanol. They will take it away ... You better get out there and vote for Republicans,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Council Bluffs Tuesday night. He took the stage, alongside Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, to tout the administration’s plan to ease restrictions on E15 fuel sales.

He also slimed Reynolds’ opponent, Democrat Fred Hubbell. “He wants to take away your ethanol,” Trump said.

Trump’s lies are hardly remarkable, given his daily dishonesty. But instead of calling nonsense in a state where bipartisan support for biofuels has been solid for decades, Reynolds’ team and Republicans took to social media to double down on Trump’s bilge.

Iowa GOP spokesman Jesse Dougherty and Reynolds campaign communications director Pat Garrett each tweeted attacks at Hubbell’s “anti-ag” record. It included his past donations to environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and the Iowa Environmental Council.

So if you’ve supported some mainstream groups working to address Iowa’s environmental challenges, many spawned by farm runoff, you’re anti-agriculture. You’re either with Reynolds’ big agribusiness pals, or you’re using tanker trucks to take all the ethanol.

Quick, better revoke Hubbell’s chop-flipping privileges at the State Fair Pork Tent.

It’s a low blow, even for a party that’s had to dig itself basements under cellars since Trump took over its soul.

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Pro-ag Reynolds signed a scattershot bill into law throwing taxpayer bucks at farm-based water quality efforts with no requirements to actually measure whether they’re cleaning up water. It won’t move the needle on big goals to reduce nitrate and phosphorus runoff. Which means it also won’t do much to save precious soil from eroding or reduce flooding swamping rural and urban Iowans alike.

The longer that needle remains stuck, the more pressure will build for regulations farmers don’t want. But Reynolds and Republicans refuse to fill the voter-approved Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund that would provide $120 million or more annually for soil and water conservation, money that could make a real dent.

They also don’t want to talk about climate change spawning more frequent extreme rainfall in Iowa, like our recent autumn deluge flooding rivers and hampering the harvest. Just ignore it, and stick with Trump, who believes it’s all a hoax. Better to fight a war on trade, which farmers depend on to for markets. And, based on his sketchy history, you’d better get this E15 thing in writing.

These are, as the Iowa Farm Bureau puts it, “friends of agriculture.”

Hubbell, who wants to fill the trust fund, pouring tens of millions of dollars into rural Iowa, is the enemy. Sure.

Once upon a time, if a slick politico came to Iowa spouting snake oil, we’d send them packing. Now, we swallow Trump’s elixir, cheer and chant with our tribe. No one is taking our ethanol, but we may have lost our minds.

l Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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