GRASSLEY: We're, obviously, in recess this week, so I'm in the
process of holding constituent meetings in 12 Iowa counties.
Yesterday, I started in Waukon and, later, Elkader and Asbury, just
outside of Dubuque and then a meeting in Dubuque. Today, I'll be on
the farm until I go to Iowa City for a 6:30 Kiwanis meeting early
So tomorrow and Friday, I'll be holding some town hall meetings.
I've got a couple businesses speaking to several service
organizations. I'll also tour farm co-ops in Keota, Oskaloosa,
Benton, and then in the process of being at each of those facilities,
hold a shorter town hall meeting with employees and members of the co-
From what I've heard so far this week, I expect a good deal of
discussion on indirect land use, the situations with livestock
industry, and climate change. That's because of visiting with so many
farm organizations. But yesterday, in my general town meetings, we
discussed health care issues, health care reform, and also the
impending legacy of debt for our grandchildren that there tended to be
such an outrage about at my town meetings.
Getting back to the farm situation, the EPA as going to be a
topic of discussion at these farm meetings, particularly, since
yesterday's announcement of a 60-day extension for the comment period
for the RFS. There's no doubt that the issue that EPA is dealing with
is very complex, so I suppose we ought to have some appreciation for
the extra time they're taking. However, the delays threaten the
viability of the biodiesel industry which needs the rule to set the
level that must be used in 2010 for the RFS. It's important that the
rule gets finished to provide market certainty because biodiesel is
not very good shape.
I'll let you guys call the names.
STAFF: Tom Rider, WNAX?
QUESTION: Good morning, Senator.
Senator, when you get back from recess, obviously, climate change
will be the -- one of the major topics, much of what you're going to
be talking about at these meetings. Any big changes that you see in
the climate change legislation? And do you think it will be passed?
GRASSLEY: Well, I'll tell you, there's a few farmers who come to
my town meetings yesterday, and you're only three days away from
passing the House. And there's complete outrage about how detrimental
it's going to be to farming. So I think that even though Chairman
Peterson did a good job of improving the House bill, it hasn't been
sold to agriculture as being a good thing.
And, of course, you know, you've heard my opinion before that
this ought to be done by worldwide, international agreement so China
and India are involved, otherwise, our industry, whether it's
agriculture or whether it's our manufacturing, and particularly
manufacturing, is going to be very uncompetitive. We're going to see
more manufacturing move overseas, and nobody should want to do that.
GRASSLEY: And if the United States would go ahead -- because
we're supposed to so-called set an example for the rest of the world
-- and if the rest of the world doesn't go along, then we're turning
out to be suckers because we're -- we're going to just reduce total
CO2 by a spit in the ocean by ourselves. So that's why we've got to
get China and India involved.
QUESTION: And do you think the measure will pass then or not
GRASSLEY: Well, right now, even Reid says he doesn't have the
votes to pass it. So it's going to be -- I think a lot of Democrats
are waking up to the problem that it creates for manufacturing.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
STAFF: Gene Lucht, Iowa Farmer Today?
QUESTION: Yes, Senator. With that in mind, is there a version
of that bill that could be passed? Or is it the fact that it doesn't
-- isn't part of an international agreement kind of doom that in the
GRASSLEY: Well, I'm not sure that other senators use the same
reasoning I do. They might even oppose an international agreement
because there's some growing dispute between, you know, scientists to
a greater extent and politicians that are beginning to study the
science to have some doubts.
So I don't -- I don't know whether other people would agree with
me or not. So other people would agree with me or not, but you've got
situations like the Australian Senate within the last couple of weeks
has defeated it on a narrow margin. You've got the New Zealand new
government taking a second look at it. You're getting a lot more
vocal points of view from people in Japan, scientists in Japan on the
I haven't heard from Japanese politicians on it, but Europe's
bragging about meeting the Kyoto deadlines already, but it's not
because of what they did to get CO2 down through regulation. It's
what the economy went to pot and they weren't doing as much
manufacturing in the last couple of years, so there's when you win.
So getting back to your question, I'm not sure my colleagues
agree with me, and they might feel it ought to be defeated for other
reasons and, particularly, because of what it does to our -- our
utility users. And then that's just a small tax every time you turn
on a light switch.
Consider all the other stuff. Manufacturing -- through every
step of the manufacturing process, it's going to add cost to a
STAFF: Tom Steever, Brownfield?
Ken Root, WHO?
QUESTION: Senator, good morning to you, sir.
GRASSLEY: Good morning.
QUESTION: You said earlier that we had another 60-day extension
on the EPA's evaluation. They're taking comments on the renewable
standard, is that correct?
GRASSLEY: Yes. Yes, that's right.
QUESTION: How do you read that? Do you read that as positive
for the renewable fuel standard or negative?
GRASSLEY: Well, it's very negative at least for biodiesel
because biodiesel is under real pressure anyway. And, also, there's a
certain date by which we have to have a rule in order to set the
mixture of biodiesel by the year 2010 under our RFS. And so it's
important it gets done.
Now, getting back to your original question, you know, I know
it's a complex issue, and I know when you're making rules, you've got
to do it carefully or it's going to be easily challenged in the
courts. But I don't want to second guess EPA. I want to urge the
increase in percentage of our biofuels mixture.
But it's got to be done right, too. So I don't know whether to
come down hard on EPA at this point or not.
QUESTION: A question. They're a regulatory agency. How can you
come down on them?
GRASSLEY: Well, just through jawboning. That's about all you
can do or else change the law or try to reason with them, things of
that nature. I find it easy to say it's kind of a no-brainer if you
want to go to 11, E-12. It might a whole different story if you want
to go to E-20. And, right now, any increase in the E-10 would help
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
STAFF: Dan Skelton in Spencer?
QUESTION: Good morning, Senator.
Al Franken will be joining you in the U.S. Senate as a senator
from Minnesota. How do you see that -- how do you see the new Senator
Franken's effect on rural issues? And does it climate change the
dynamics in the Senate materially?
GRASSLEY: I think it will make a difference. It's going to make it
different for the Senate to function what it's supposed to be where
minority has a lot of power because of the 60 percent supermajority.
You have a situation where -- where -- where that's the way the Senate
is supposed to function to give the minority a little bit of strength
so that the Senate's not exactly like the House of Representatives
where the majority can get anything done they want to get done by
steam rolling things through.
Obviously, that's not the way it's supposed to be in the Senate.
And the extent to which the Democrats have 60 senators, they stick
together, then that's going to make the minority less relevant.
Now, as long as Kennedy and Byrd are out yet, it gives leverage
to the minority. The extent to which they come back, the only
moderating influence on the majority then is that there's about 15
Democrats, led by Senator Bayh, that consider themselves moderate
Democrats. The extent to which they're willing to join forces with
the Republicans, then that will help. It'll help the minority to have
a voice and the Senate to function the way it was intended to under
STAFF: Chris Clayton, DTN?
QUESTION: Senator, it's a little different, but in terms of your
discussions with health care, and that's a big issue rural America,
what are -- what are you hearing in your town meetings regarding
health care? And where do you -- where are things standing right now
with the Senate on that topic?
GRASSLEY: Well, you're hearing everything in my town meetings
from -- on the liberal side, the extent to which the Senate should go
along with government takeover the health care completely to the other
extreme that people don't want anything done because they're satisfied
with what they have and they're scared that, with passing health care
reform, the Congress is going screw up a good health care system.
And, of course, my answer is that we're trying to find a
bipartisan solution, but that there are two other forms -- the Pelosi
House where they're going to be very much gearing up for government
takeover of health care and Senator Kennedy's committee in the House
where they're gearing up the same way.
So the only moderate approach is what Senator Baucus and I are
trying to negotiate in a bipartisan way to move ahead in the Senate
Finance Committee and whether or not even a moderate position that we
work out can survive the challenge that we're getting from Pelosi in
the House of Representatives is questionable and the extent to which
we can't survive in a bipartisan way then, obviously, I'm not going to
be a part of any effort of the government to take over health care in
STAFF: Just a reminder to everyone, you can hit pound five to
mute your phones and then pound five to unmute your phones.
We'll go to Stacia, National Farm Broadcasters.
Gary Digiuseppe, Arkansas Radio Network?
QUESTION: I have no questions.
STAFF: Philip Brasher, Des Moines Register?
OK. I've read through the entire list. Does anyone have a
follow-up or was anyone added late?
QUESTION: Senator Grassley, Tom Rider at WNAX again.
QUESTION: Sorry about that.
There was a recent case where Tyson was ready to seize a
producer's home in South Dakota for failure to pay court costs because
he and some others brought suit against them for market manipulation.
They ended up losing on appeal and were ordered to pay court costs.
Since then, Tyson's backed off and is supposedly donating these
funds to local food banks. Anyway, sir, the question I ask is does
this mean that there needs to be even stronger enforcement of anti-
competitive practices by meat packers to keep them from this type of
GRASSLEY: Oh, absolutely. The power of a few big players in --
in food processing is -- has got to be challenged. And I think this
administration is putting a team together in packers and stockyards
and other areas where you're going to find vigorous enforcement. I
don't think we need any stronger law. Maybe, we do in the area of
price discovery, but beyond that, I think we're talking about the
enforcement of existing law.
OK. Anybody else?
STAFF: I think that's it.
QUESTION: Thank you, Senator.