Sen. Ernst meets with producers to talk trade, tariffs, other concerns

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SIBLEY, Iowa (KSFY) - Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst met with ag producers in Sibley on Monday night for a roundtable on multiple issues the industry is facing.

"And at the end of that meeting, the President said at that time, he's like, 'Wow! That's the first time anybody's ever come into this room and refused money!'" Ernst told producers about a time she met with President Trump to talk about aid.

Ernst spent nearly two hours with producers for Osceola County on Monday night. Tim Peelen, who producers corn, soybeans, alfalfa and has livestock, said it's important those in Washington, D.C., listen.

"How are they gonna know where we're doing back here if we don't have that access?" Peelen said. "I applaud her for going around to all the counties in the whole state and talking to people. whether she hears good or bad, she's willing to listen."

Ernst comes from a family farming background and said while she represents Iowa, the concerns she's hearing are from all across the Midwest and said, the President needs to understand that.

"If we work with enough of them is that gonna get us back into the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) or are we gonna have to do them all individually?" Peelen asked Ernst during the session.

"It's important we're making sure that we are getting areas of trade opened up, we want new free trade agreements," Ernst said.

And as for the $12 billion in aid the White House has proposed to help farmers hurt by the trade war?

"I said, 'Mr. President, thank you very much for vowing to support the american farmer, but we want trade, not aid,'" Ernst said.

"There's still lingering questions about how is this trade gonna get done -- when?" Peelen said. "The big question is, when is it gonna get done? Because I'm afraid my farmer's timetable and policitians' timetable may not mesh the best."

But Ernst said, the President does have an end game.

"We have more leverage than china does," Ernst said. "We import a lot more Chinese goods than they import american goods. At some point they run out of leverage and we have the leverage left."

Other topics on the table Monday night included making E-15 gas available year-round and proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of the new 2018 farm bill.

Ernst told attendees she's got the President's ear on ag issues. The President refused to sign a proposal for E-15 that was tied to putting Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) on exports, after hearing from a staffer that she wouldn't be pleased.