The Exchange, March 6, 2019, Tariffs, Lent and Small Wonder

Mar 7, 2019

The Exchange The Exchange 030619

The retaliatory Chinese tariffs on soybeans and corn are still causing a lot of financial trouble to farmers, some of whom are being forced to default on their loans, but low commodity prices are also causing problems for farmers.  Also, after nearly a year of threats of closure, the University of Iowa Labor Center has a bright future ahead. And, on this Ash Wednesday, we talk with Morningside Professor Emeritus Bruce Forbes about the traditions of Lent.

That and more coming up on The Exchange.

You’re listening to the Exchange on SPM; I’m MH. 

Since China began to inflict higher tariffs on American farmers in response to tariffs put in place by President Trump, farmers have been struggling to pay back loans after. A key government program is showing the highest default rate in at least nine years.

Many agricultural loans come due around Jan. 1, in part to give producers enough time to sell crops and livestock and to give them more flexibility in timing interest payments for tax-filing purposes.  January figures show an overall rise in delinquencies for those producers with direct loans from the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. Allen Featherstone, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.  

Tariffs Delinquencies

That was Allen Featherstone, the head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.  Featherstone says the farm economy is still struggling more than a year after President Donald Trump put in place new tariffs on Chinese imports, and the Chinese hit back with tariffs on American commodities like corn and soybeans.

You’re listening to The Exchange on SPM; I’m MH.

The University of Iowa Labor Center has a future after all. The center was supposed to close in June, but it will survive after a vote yesterday by the Board of Regents.  The Center serves as a hub for labor law research.  It was one of seven UI centers set to be closed to make up for what was called generational disinvestment from the state. 

The Board of Regents voted to close the center last November, but Iowa labor unions criticized the move and supporters from around the state came out to support the center.  Regents reversed their earlier decision last month after UI administrators and labor center staff created a plan to make the center self-supporting. Yesterday the board finalized the decision to keep the center open.  It will still receive some financial support for the next four years. 

Labor Center Director Jen Sherer says people from around the state supported the center and its work and that made a big difference in its survival.

.Iowa Labor Center

That was UI Labor Center Director Jen Sherer, talking about the news that the center will remain open, after being threatened with closure due to state budget cuts.  The center is located in the University of Iowa Law School 

You’re listening to The Exchange, on SPM.  I’m Mary Hartnett.  

It looks like a bill that would have made it more challenging to create new public land in Iowa will not move on to a committee hearing.  House Bill 542 was to have prevented state money from being used to acquire property for public use.  The bill would have also ended the state’s conservation tax credit.

Joe Jayjack of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation testified at the hearing and said hundreds of people showed up at the capital yesterday to show their support for land conservation.

Iowa Land for Preservation Bill

That was Joe Jayjack of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, talking about two bills that aimed at limiting public land acquisition in the state.  House File 452, was rejected by a House subcommittee Monday after dozens of Iowans showed up at the hearing in opposition to the bill.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation had said that bill was needed to prevent state and local governments and private entities, such as the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and sportsmen’s’ groups, from buying land sought by farmers.  The second bill, SSB 1221 would eliminate the tax credit for charitable conservation contributions of land and stop the government from acquiring land purchased by a private entity that used money from the state revolving loan fund or federal Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act. That bill will be discussed by a Senate subcommittee this week. 

You’re listening to The Exchange on SPM; I’m MH.

A bill that would allow utility companies to charge an additional fee to customers who use solar panels has advanced out of an Iowa House committee.

Republican Representative Gary Mohr (MORE) of Bettendorf says non-solar customers are subsidizing the use of utility infrastructure by Iowans with solar panels. 

0305mohr1: 14  “The idea is basically if you use it, you pay for it. If you use the energy grid, either buying utility power from a utility company or sending it back to the utility from solar energy, you pay for the use of the grid.”

Solar panel distributors, like Van Meter Electrical Supply in Sioux City and Webster City, agree.   Logan Welch is a Renewable Energy Product Manager and Solar Specialist, and he had been lobbying against the bill.

Payouts for Solar Energy

Logan Welch is a Renewable Energy Product Manager and Solar Specialist Webster City. He has been lobbying against a bill that would charge an additional fee to customers who use solar panels.  The bill now goes to the full house. 

You’re listening to The Exchange on SPM; I’m MH.

On this Ash Wednesday, Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer takes a closer look at the religious holiday.  She recently spoke with Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Morningside College, Dr. Bruce Forbes on the subject.

TAG:  That’s Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer talking to Dr. Bruce Forbes, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Morningside College.  Dr. Forbes is an expert and author on the history of Christian religions.  He is also an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

Lying beneath the snow, deep below the frozen ground, are the roots of the prairie.  The grasses that once spread as far as the eye could see evolved to wait out these cold midwestern winters, which is a good lesson. Jim Schaap takes us back to those prairies today.

Be sure to join us on March 20that the Sioux City public library for a live discussion on the effects of the tariff war with farmers, manufacturers and local experts on international trade.  The program will be broadcast live from the Gleeson room at the library at noon, or you can join us there live.  030619