Des Moines Register: U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne to introduce legislation to provide aid to rural communities
January 29, 2021
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is introducing a bill that would put cash into the pockets of rural residents
Axne kicked off an agriculture-focused town hall tour in Indianola on Wednesday with the new legislation and connecting with her roots.
Axne previewed her new bill, the Rural Equal Aid Act (REA), which was officially introduced the next morning on Jan. 27, to three attendees from the Warren County Farm Bill and local press at Salem Connections in Indianola.
She said the REA bill would extend support to those who have taken out rural development loans with the USDA, similar to what was done in the CARES Act through Small Business Administration loans and the Paycheck Protection program.
Axne said this support would go to rural communities whose farmers and businesses often take out loans with the USDA and didn’t get a pause on interest and repayment under the CARES Act.
While the legislation is a standalone bill, Axne will introduce it with a bipartisan group of representatives and believes it is likely to be attached to the next COVID-19 stimulus package, which has not been officially introduced in Congress but has been proposed by President Joe Biden.
“I’m hoping to continue to be a voice for rural (Iowa) and raise up that voice in D.C.,” she said. “It shouldn’t take a pandemic for people to start caring about agriculture.”
With her emphasis on a voice for rural Iowa, Axne pointed to her roots in Warren County.
“As some of you know, Indianola is near and dear to me. My mother grew up on a farm just outside of Milo,” Axne said.
Milo is approximately eight miles southeast of Indianola.
Ray Dittmer, a Farm Bureau member who lives near Carlisle and Liberty Center, told Axne he knew her late mother.
“(My mother) would be really proud that someone who came from a farm family in Warren County is making sure we have representation in Congress,” Axne said.
Axne’s conversation went beyond agriculture, hitting on international trade, broadband access, carbon energy, climate change, COVID-19 and the new Biden presidency.
Paul Mead, a Warren County resident and member of the county Farm Bureau , asked about a potential new carbon tax in a bill dealing with carbon sequestration.
Axne said the bill is “not a tax” and clarified the question refers to the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which she said is a market for farmers to generate revenue by keeping carbon in the soil. She said she has been involved with conversations on climate change so farmers and Iowa have a “seat at the table” in any future legislation.
“I know that Iowans are a good steward of our environment and want to be thoughtful about what they can do differently,” she said.
Adam Hill, a member of the county Farm Bureau, asked about trade deals with China and whether the current deal will be reworked or if a new one will be negotiated.
“I don’t think there is any reason to scrap anything if it’s moving us in the right direction. We can build from that, but there are some pieces within it that can be redone and give us even more opportunity. I’m sure the (Biden) administration will be looking to address that,” she said.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.
Axne, who is a member of the U.S. House Agriculture committee, said she wants the U.S. to step up its international trade efforts because countries like Brazil, among others, are filling a hole left by the U.S. when it backed away from international trade agreements and started a trade war with China.
This town hall, which is the first in a series around the state for Axne, was previously postponed following an attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.