U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley fielded a number of questions from citizens gathered on Monday June 30th at the Aurelia Community Center, one of the stops in a series of town meetings this week.
Energy policy, foreign trade, the war in Iraq, health care and agriculture were subjects of interest for those gathered at the community center.
Grassley is a supporter of free trade, believing that the benefits of open two-way markets outweigh the negatives. "Our export market right now is the one bright spot in our economy," he said.
One livestock producer took issue with the tax incentives provided for ethanol, contending that it is one of the reasons for the high cost of feeding livestock.
Grassley noted that there have been tax incentives for ethanol for 30 years and this has just recently come under criticism. He said the fact is that grain production has increased at a rate higher than the demand increase from higher ethanol production. Grassley blamed the criticism of tax incentives primarily on grocery associations, which are trying to divert blame for the rising cost of food.
Grassley noted that there is a limit of expansion of ethanol production, requiring future production to be cellulose ethanol created from non-food substances.
Grassley advocated more drilling for oil as well as development of alternative energy sources, including nuclear.