I recently introduced three bills inspired by issues the people of Iowa’s Third Congressional District brought to my attention.
For years Iowa’s independent cattle producers have been asking for fairness and an equal footing in the cattle market, as they are increasingly squeezed out to due a lack of market transparency and competition. I’ve heard too many stories from producers having to sell their cattle at a loss, only for the packer to turn it around for a significant profit.
Two Iowa couples — cattle producers Jake and Kristie Driver and Ricky and Shelly Larson, owners of Rustic Cuts in Council Bluffs — were kind enough to host USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack and myself back in July to talk about the need for more transparency and accountability in the market so our farmers can have a fair shake.
We were also able to see the significant weaknesses in our supply chain that the pandemic had exposed and the need for additional processing capacity.
In response, Vilsack announced the USDA would invest $500 million from the American Rescue Plan through grants and loans to help expand processing facilities across the country, with more than $150 million of that funding helping small or very small processing facilities.
To ensure our independent producers have a fair shot going forward, I recently introduced the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act to provide meaningful and long overdue reform to the cattle industry and to ensure family farmers in Iowa and across the country can continue their operations for generations to come.
I have also heard from local governments earlier this year that many small towns in Iowa don’t have administrative staff to complete the red tape that comes along with receiving American Rescue Plan funds that are meant to help uplift our towns and counties following the pandemic.
That’s why I’m co-sponsoring a bill called the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act, which would expand the infrastructure investments that state and local governments can make, like the broadband, manufacturing, water and housing investments the state recently announced with unspent COVID-19 relief funds.
It would give local governments more flexibility to use up to $10 million for general government services, without requiring understaffed local governments to submit detailed documentation of revenue losses.
Iowa’s local governments know best how to allocate their funding to get their towns back on their feet. It’s important we give them the flexibility they need to cover their losses and invest in their long-term success.
I was also devastated to hear of another puppy mill in Wayne County, where a single breeder racked up nearly 200 violations of the Animal Welfare Act with impunity.
As a proud dog mom, I have made it my mission to hold those who abuse our animals accountable.
That is why I introduced Goldie’s Act, which is named in memory of one of the 500 dogs neglected and abused at the USDA-licensed facility. The legislation closes loopholes in current animal welfare law and makes clear that there should be no slaps on the wrist for breaking the law.
We must ensure bad actors are held accountable by the USDA and that our law is crystal clear on what should be done to promote animal welfare.
I will continue to work until these pieces of legislation are signed into law. I take all issues my constituents bring to my attention very seriously and I’m proud to be fighting on behalf of Iowans in Congress.
Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.