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Friday, April 23, 2021

Iowa’s farmers and politicians are ready for an economy with more volatility

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Iowans have traditionally had tough issues to deal with — drought and flood and soaring and collapsing economies.

“We’ve been through our toughest times, our toughest storms, through our best days,” Ron Wieczorek, the Republican secretary of agriculture in Iowa, told me on Saturday night. “Our citizens didn’t want a locked down election.”

Wieczorek, who is running in the Republican caucuses for the state assembly, laid out the reasons his campaign will do well. “We’re a 21st century economy, and we don’t need anybody standing in the way,” he said.

But Iowa’s economy is still feeling the brunt of last week’s stock market dive and politicians who don’t have the tools to face the anxiety gripping the country.

Iowa is only Minnesota and the Dakotas, compared to other states where the fluctuations in the stock market are well known and a tradeoff. The economy, especially in agriculture, has really tanked the last few years, according to a recent report from the state’s most important agencies.

“Our numbers are as bad as they were in 2008,” Zach Dorholt, the Republican chairman of the state’s house agricultural and economic development committee, told me.

Iowa also has a big problem with foreign trade. Democrats note that just one of its eight congressional representatives voted against a tariff-limiting measure enacted Friday night.

Republicans point out that many constituents said during the 2018 midterm elections that trade will be their biggest concern in 2020. They note that a reduction in the number of presidential primary debates and other recent changes that opened up the field to more candidates has hurt the state.

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