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While officials in Washington stare at a federal budget proposal headed nowhere and a federal budget deficit headed to the moon, farm leaders in rural America are closely watching two recent moves into Big Ag by Big Retail.

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WASHINGTON – National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp made the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of a proposed rule to allow for year-round sales of E15.

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As society becomes more mechanized, so too do industries such as agriculture. While resident dairy cows may not notice the changes — and perhaps might even be more comfortable with the regularity of robotics and the luxury of water beds — farmers might take longer to adjust to the new age of agriculture.

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More than 90 apple growers from several states lobbied legislative offices for quick passage of USMCA which, they say, is crucial to keeping robust apple exports to Mexico and Canada.

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On March 6, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, appeared before a Congressional committee to report the emergency crisis that is going on at our southern border. The hard-working Border Patrol is being stretched to the limits.

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The preponderance of CAFOs in Iowa has decimated rural economies. Children that live on or near CAFOs are nearly three times as likely to suffer from respiratory illness than children who do not. CAFOs produce far more manure than our land can absorb, and the excess manure ends up in our water.

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If you don’t know it’s happening, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Of course not. But, this seems to be the desired outcome of Iowa’s “ag-gag” law that went into effect in 2012 and was recently struck down by a federal judge earlier this year.

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These are capricious times, a time like no other in my memory. History is being made daily directly in front of us, and it’s not to our benefit. Our democratic way of life is being threatened by incompetency, and unless there is a total disinfection at the very top of our government, we will end up struggling with health care, proper education, and immigration laws. What I have mentioned is but a scratch on that landscape called life.

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I would like take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the state, county, and city snow plow drivers for their efforts since the Sunday, Feb. 24 blizzard. The trifecta of heavy rain, then 9 to 16 inches of snow (who could measure?), followed by 18-plus hours of 45 mph wind left all roads, streets, and alleys a disaster. What happened in the next couple days was miraculous – calling it a “job well done” is an understatement. Your tireless efforts are very much appreciated. Kudos to each and every one of you!

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I simply want to offer my sincere congratulations to Clear Lake firefighter volunteer Greg Southgate, who recently became a U.S. citizen. I commend Greg for being one of many legal immigrants to the U.S. who choose to do things the right way!

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With all the hyperventilating going on over what "socialism" is, it may truly be shocking for some to learn that Canada has had a democratic socialist political party for years in the form of the New Democratic Party.

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The presidential race is in full swing here in Iowa, and Iowans have a big decision to make. Above all, we need a leader who can restore dignity to the White House and unite Americans to solve the difficult problems we face.

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Sen. Grassley’s office notified me that he’s presently chairing the Finance Committee’s second round of hearings on the very high drug prices that we individuals and the federal government, through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, are forced to pay.

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On Friday, Feb. 1, the third-graders from Jefferson Elementary in Mason City were invited to attend the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom. We didn’t really know what to expect, and we were completely entertained. With an already packed schedule, it’s truly amazing that the Surf Ballroom took the time to include our students in this event.

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Let me see if I understand this correctly. The left calls it “amoral” or "immoral" for us to build a wall on our southern border designed to protect our country from illegal immigrants.

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New bottle cap and can deposit bill is a disgrace. Stores no longer have to take bottles and cans back, including convenience stores and retail. That is not right. Where does that 5-cent deposit money go?

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The Republican-controlled legislature wants to amend our Iowa Constitution to say that Iowa will no longer protect or guarantee the right to an abortion nor will it grant funding for any abortion. (Senate Joint Resolution 9) I am alarmed and angry. You should be, too.

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Republican lawmakers in Iowa are currently trying to change the way Iowa selects its judges. They’d like Iowans to believe that our judges are politically appointed and partisan. This, however, is not the case.

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I would like to thank Senior Judge James Gritzner for his unequivocal support for the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. The senior judge evaluated the facts against the "Agricultural Production Facility Fraud" law, a deceptive name and offensive statute. He found no provision in the Constitution where the rights of corporations override the rights of natural persons. (Corporations are not people.)

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In the Monday, Feb. 4 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls) Courier was the story "Traffic camera bills return." In that article, "House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, is taking another run this year at regulating traffic cameras to make sure they are being used to enhance safety, not just to generate revenue."

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In responding to Mr. Wayne Rietema's recent letter ("Dems won't protect the nation," Feb. 6), it has been stated over and over in local news reports, national news outlets, interviews with governors and mayors from the area, not to mention, numerous local citizens living in the border area, that modern technology would better insure a safer border than a Trump wall. That is no more than a much needed campaign promise to satisfy his base and some "hard headed Republicans."

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For those that watched the State of the Union speech, the one word that would describe this country currently would be broke. Virtually no one is talking about or cares. Total US debt is nearly $22 trillion. That is nearly $68,000 for every citizen, $200,000 per taxpayer.

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So now Steve King is a racist? By who's standard? If you don't think and speak like others think you should, you must be a racist. You can't regulate or legislate thought. I am very tired of this worn out argument. Most of us go to work and take care of our family. We don't think about racism.

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Last year, Iowa’s bankers tried to burden consumers with a slight-of-hand that would subject many of the state’s cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions to an additional tax on top of the current state tax on legally required safety and soundness reserve balances. Ultimately, credit unions prevailed in educating lawmakers on the cooperative difference, and preserved financial choice for Iowans.

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Let me get this straight. I am supposed to feel sorry for some 800,000 public workers who earn more than non-governmental workers who do the same jobs, who get their own special retirement program (better than what Social Security provides for the rest of us), who are not subject to Obamacare (their Medical plan is better and cheaper), who cannot be fired, and who always receive back pay for time off work, and better vacations, better benefits, etc.

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Allow me to pontificate on some current issues. I think we Democrats need to put aside our stern rules about who is and who is not acceptable in public office. Our strict and stern adherence to political purity is costing us way too many otherwise good people.

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I find it very interesting reading the letters to the editor and daily news articles on the border wall. I winter in south Texas, just 5 miles from the Mexican border. If these people would come down here and talk to a barber, clerk in the department store, retired year-round citizens, policemen and border patrol, they might change their opinion of the wall!

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In a nation divided by the ever more ruthless game of party politics, it is the people who suffer. The recent government shutdown was the longest in American history, lasting 35 days. It cost our economy $3 billion in permanent losses and forced over 800,000 federal employees to go without a paycheck for over a month.

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The Iowa Senate must change course and explicitly adopt long-standing rules that enable public access to the legislative process. During week one of session, several Republican-controlled Senate Committees declined to amend the rules that have protected public access to subcommittee hearings for 15 years. The decision not to abide by those long-standing norms means that 24-hour advance notice of hearings have been jettisoned in favor of back-room dealing.