It’s like clockwork. Every four years, a new presidential election cycle ramps up and each time, no matter who is running, Iowa becomes the centerpiece of political discussion.
Why? Because Iowa is the first state to caucus, residents of this state possess disproportionate power over the candidates. That power cannot be overstated—historically, whoever wins over Iowa gains crucial momentum for the rest of their presidential campaign.
In a state where corn dominates the local economy, agricultural issues remain at the heart of residents’ political decision-making, particularly during election season. They are looking for the candidates to express their support for policies that build upon their existing success and enhance their livelihoods. This includes government mandates like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which generates billions of dollars of added revenue for the state, as 47 percent of Iowa’s corn crop is dedicated to ethanol production. However, the RFS comes at the expense of the rest of the population outside of Iowa.
A presidential candidate’s stance on the RFS could make or break their campaign in the state, and with so many politicians vying for attention this year, the stakes are higher than ever. Oftentimes, this pressure encourages candidates to pander to Iowa corn growers early on, even if it contradicts their ideological principles, as has been the case with Republican and Democratic candidates alike.
“The true free-market, limited government position is not supportive of mandates, and that would include the ethanol mandate,” says RFS opponent Liz Mair in a recent interview with MSNBC. “The question is simply, ‘Do we all need to have it blended into our fuel?’”
The answer is no.
Mandated ethanol production may be lucrative for the corn industry, but it comes at a hefty price for the rest of us. With so much land devoted to ethanol production and less dedicated to food, food prices are skyrocketing at the grocery store. So while corn farmers line their pockets, we struggle to make ends meet.
Instead of catering to Iowa’s special interests, our politicians should be concentrating on building policies and programs that benefit the country as a whole. After all, there are 49 other states to impress.
Want to learn more? Get the full story below from MSNBC.