Senate candidates debate agriculture

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)-- Wednesday night, a debate between Iowa U.S. Senate Candidates was held in Sioux City.

Field with hay rolls

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge had a lot to say about agriculture.

Judge and Grassley agree on the Renewable Fuel Standard, though Grassley focused on the EPA mandates reducing ethanol and Judge pointed out the ethanol subsidies are not as significant as those the oil industry gets.

When the 2018 farm bill came up, naturally crop insurance was the topic.

Judge says as they address a new farm bill, they have to find what's appropriate, namely with historically high crop prices in the rear view mirror. First, she wants to make sure there are strong safety net programs under family farmers.

Grassley also says they should have a safety net but adds farmers already pay in and their businesses have events like weather or international politics that they have no control over.

Grassley compares it to national disasters like needing government relief in hurricane events, "You can have floods, and if you do, then you help them. It's 100 percent disaster. But when it comes to the farmers, they plan ahead. 95 percent of them in Iowa and they pay for the crop insurance along with the tax payers so it's a good deal for the tax payers."

In a question on comprehensive tax reform in agriculture, Grassley thinks the estate tax needs to be done away with because farmers are rich in land but not so much in capital. He notes presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants a 65 percent estate tax, which he claims would split up farming operations and hurt young farmers.

Judge says she agrees with Hillary Clinton on most issues, but she would not vote for that one, "The issue of the Estate Tax and the plan that she has put forward, I do not agree with. Be very clear about that. I think it is unfair to farmers. I've been secretary of Agriculture in this state. I do understand a bit about land prices about fluctuation, about how you may be wealthy one day and dead broke the next day if you're in agriculture."

Both Judge and Grassley think tax reform needs to be looked at a broader scope rather than at just individual issues.