The Exchange, December 5, 2018, Tariffs, Medicaid, Iowa Labor Center

Dec 6, 2018

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Coming up today on The Exchange, we hear about how pork producers and soybean farmers are dealing with the effects of retaliatory tariffs this harvest season, 

also, how supporters of the Iowa Labor Center are working to preserve the more than fifty-year-old advocacy center from budget cuts. 

That and more coming up on The Exchange today at noon.

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Intro

Welcome to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett. Today, we will check in with leaders of the soybean and pork farmers of Siouxland and find out how they are doing with this year’s harvest that’s been affected by the retaliatory tariffs from China.  But first, we have an update on efforts to keep the doors open at the University of Iowa’s Labor Center. The Labor Center conducts educational programming for workers and their organizations. 

Following midyear budget cuts in fiscal 2018, the state Board of Regents in November approved closing the University of Iowa Labor Center, Iowans from across the state gathered Monday to protest the decision and take efforts to keep the center open directly to UI President Bruce Harreld’s office.

Community members gathered for the Statewide Labor Center Summit and converged in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber Monday to voice their opposition to closing the Center.

The Iowa Board of regents approved closing the center it at its Nov. 16 meeting.

Jennifer Sherer is the director of the UI Labor Center.  Sherer says supporters of the center are making good progress in trying to keep the center open.  

That was Jennifer Sherer, the director of the UI Labor Center.  Sherer says a large crowd of supporters gathered on Monday in the state senate room in the old State Capitol building on the UI Campus to show their support for keeping the threatened center open.  Since the Labor Center's founding in 1951, tens of thousands of Iowa workers and union members have participated in Labor Center classes on practical industrial relations, labor, and employment law, among other issues. 

You’re listening to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.  

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump instituted higher tariffs on steel and other goods from China, and the Chinese responded in kind with tariffs on pork, corn, and soybeans.  

For soybean farmers, the loss of the Chinese market has been worrying in a year of a better than average harvest.  Many farmers have decided to store their soybeans until better prices and better markets come along.  Lyndsey Greiner is the president of the Iowa Soybean Growers Association. Greiner recently returned from Barcelona, where he and nearly 300 soybean farmers and industry stakeholders attended the four-day event hosted by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). To mitigate soybean export losses to China, Greiner and other farmers are talking with soy importers and end users about the value and quality of this year’s record U.S. crop pegged at 4.6 billion bushels. Greiner says Initial feedback during industry visits about future demand for U.S. soy is promising, Greiner said. However, the price is still the key factor.

That was Lyndsey Greiner, the President of the Iowa Soybean Gowers Association.  Greiner returned from a trade mission to Barcelona recently.  The U.S. has overtaken Brazil as the top soybean supplier to many European countries, as well as the Middle East and North Africa, in the wake of the retaliatory tariffs on soybeans on the part of China.

Pork farmers have also been affected by the retaliatory tariffs. However, their outlook is a bit better than that of the soybean farmers.  Al Juhnke is the executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers in Lincoln.  Juhnke says

That the executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers, Al Juhnke.   He was talking about the subsidies pork producers have been receiving to take the edge off of retaliatory tariffs by China, and he also discussed the possible economic effects of Swine Fever in that country, as well as the growth of farmer-owned pork plants in Northeast Nebraska.

You’re listening to The Exchange, on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.

After two years of releasing see-sawing estimates, Iowa Medicaid leaders have been calculating how much the state is saving by hiring private companies to manage the state's $5 billion Medicaid program, the state auditor concluded Monday.

Using the most recent estimation method with updated financial information, Mosiman's office estimates the fiscal year 2018 savings at $126 million.

The auditor chided the Iowa Department of Human Services for failing to have an accurate way to estimate the savings when the state made the shift to private Medicaid management in 2016.

Mosiman, a Republican, weighed into the controversy after a monthslong investigation requested by a Democratic state senatorlast summer.

The state auditor, whose Nov. 6 election defeat was tied to the issue, sided with the administration of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Democrats, who have heavily criticized the move to privately managed care, weren't swayed by the audit's findings. Sioux City Democratic State Representative Chris Hall has long been concerned about both the effect of privatized Medicaid financially and in terms of its effects on patients, who hall says may not be receiving the level of care they need and deserve.

Iowa’s only medical marijuana manufacturer Medpharm Iowa says it saw a successful first weekend as its two dispensaries opened and its products went on sale across the state.

Between Saturday and Sunday, MedPharm served about 120 patients in suburban Des Moines and more than 15 in Sioux City.

MedPharm’s General Manager  Lucas Nelson said that opening day was “a whirlwind of emotions.” But he says there’s still a lot of work to do with educating doctors about certifying patients for the program. 

He says Iowa law protects doctors as long as they are complying with the state’s program.

Nelson says a lot of patients shared their stories about how their lives have been affected by medical conditions, such as having untreatable pain.

Nelson says MedPharm still has more work to do like educating doctors about how the state’s medical cannabidiol program works. They’d also like to see more approved medical conditions on the program’s list