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By Staff | Dec 25, 2015

Gov. Terry Branstad is now adding his weight to his son Eric’s challenge of Ted Cruz’s opposition to ethanol and the RFS.

The only fuel that is being subsidized right now is produced by Cruz’s oil industry donors.

Cruz’s partner, Congressman Steve King, who blasted the ethanol group directed by Eric Branstad, America’s Renewable Future, now finds himself going up directly against Gov. Branstad.

“Cruz is the most anti-ethanol, anti-renewable fuel, of all the candidates,” Gov. Branstad said Wednesday in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “Conventional wisdom says he should win in Iowa, but his record is something that shows hypocrisy on this issue.

“If they are able to stop the Cruz momentum that will show the real clout of the renewables.”

Donald Trump, behind in some polls in Iowa to Cruz, picked up on the opportunity to tout his support for ethanol and to remind people that Cruz is bought and paid for by the oil industry.

Cruz depicts himself as being this outsider independent Tea Party zealot, but his money comes from oil donors who are using him like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I think about as much of Cruz as do his colleagues in the Senate. He has lost their respect.

While Cruz is the most anti-ethanol candidate running, the issues for Iowa agriculture are not just about ethanol. Trade and farm sector labor are also critically important.

My own positions on all these issues would track very closely with those of the Iowa Farm Bureau who has always been considered a GOP leaning organization for good reason.

Cruz’s positions on ethanol, trade and labor conflict directly with those of Farm Bureau.

Cruz opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an extremely important trade benefit to the ag sector. His immigration policy would offer no help to the ag sector looking for a legal means to hire the workers it needs.

Western Iowa dairy farmers say King has never been sympathetic to their labor issues, but he was supportive of ethanol and the RFS until having endorsed Cruz.

Asked by someone visiting his office for an explanation of the endorsement he reportedly had none that he would share.

It is one of those ideological inconsistencies that I have noted about conservatives who would throw their constituents interests under the bus for King to support Cruz.

The evangelicals have come out for Cruz, too. They are an important GOP constituency having elected both presidents Santorum and Huckabee (Ha!).

The evangelicals do have a record of determining the winner of the Iowa caucuses, but that is as far as it goes. There has never been this much divergence however, before between the candidate that evangelicals supported such as Huckabee and Santorum, who both favor the RFS and the issues impacting the ag sector, to have chosen to back Cruz who is as anti-ag as you can get.

They do not give a rip about the ag economy and that includes King who stuck a knife in Ag’s back by endorsing Cruz.

If you asked Cruz about crop insurance subsidies or the farm bill you would get very anti-ag answers about those issues, too.

My general observation looking at the polling for the GOP nomination would conclude that the majority of Iowa GOP voters as a whole could give a rip about the ag economy.

The top candidates – Trump, Cruz and Carsen – all have threatening anti-ag policy. Carsen who has been fading doesn’t have good policy on ethanol, trade or labor issues, but at least he is a nice man whom I believed deserved his Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Trump is okay on ethanol, but he views it as an extension of his protectionist trade policy that would kill the ag sector.

Now if it was just opposition to TPP like that shared by Cruz and Clinton, it would be one thing. That is bad enough. But Trump intends to go to war with our trade partners with tariffs who will respond by closing their markets to us.

Trade is a winner for agriculture, with Iowa in particular having a strong trade surplus with all of the major trading partners – Mexico, Japan and China – that Trump would impose tariffs upon.

Trump would turn us in the ag sector into losers. It would be an understatement to say that Trump’s trade policy would destabilize global trade and the global economy and ag trade which is currently positive, but would become collateral damage as a casualty of Trump’s protectionism.

Trump’s trade policy would make South American agriculture great as Asian trading partners moved their business and investment cementing trade relationships with Brazil and Argentina avoiding the U.S.

Trump would be the best thing that ever happened to South American corn, soybean, cotton, pork, poultry and beef producers.

When Trump deports all undocumented immigrants and their families there would be a labor crisis for the ag sector, which heavily employs these workers and there is no pool from which alternative workers to hire.

It would be disruptive enough that food costs would rise for U.S. consumers. Trump’s registry of Muslims and deportation of Hispanics and other immigrants will require an aggressive new enforcement agency that I have likened to a gestapo.

There would be resistance and he would create a security risk for the country internally that does not currently exist.

Just because a celebrity stands up in front of a crowd that would cheer if he bragged to them what he had for breakfast that morning doesn’t make the policy he espouses implementable with a wave of his hand.

Much of it would be down and ugly dirty. His assurances that it can be done “nicely’ is delusional.

I have not been to a political caucus in decades, but I will GOP-up and add at least one vote in defense of the ag sector so it looks like someone in Iowa actually cares about the ag economy besides the Branstads.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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