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In Sioux City, Steve King Talks Farm Bill, Temporary Migrant Workers

Clay Masters/IPR file

Iowa’s 4th District Rep. Steve King spoke to a rotary club in Sioux City Monday about what he’s looking forward to when he returns to Capitol Hill. The lame-duck session starts Tuesday.
King told the Rotary Club of Sioux City at a downtown restaurant that he’ll continue to push to get a farm bill done. Congress needs to pass a new one or grant an extension before the end of the year.

The Republican congressman says he’d like to see his legislation in the farm bill that would keep states from regulating production standards for agricultural products sold in interstate commerce by other states.

King drafted that legislation nearly a decade ago. He says California was “locking out” Iowa’s ethanol because they wanted sugarcane-based ethanol instead of ethanol from corn.

“It doesn’t make sense in how we can load up a…tank of ethanol made from corn in Iowa, roll it out to California and they’d say, ‘we don’t like the method that you used to process this ethanol.’ The product is exactly the same whether it’s out of sugarcane, whether it’s out of ethanol, whether it’s dry or whether it’s wet,” King said.

Some agricultural groups have opposed King’s legislation, fearing it would limit local governments and consumer choice.

King also addressed a question from a Rotary Club member who asked if the state should be more open to taking in labor from across the country's borders to resolve Iowa’s labor shortages. King, who has long been a proponent of a border wall, said he has talked with President Donald Trump about requiring any person from outside of the country who is coming to work in the U.S. to post a bond before they're given a visa. That is part of a bill he introduced earlier this year called the E-bonding for Immigration Integrity Act of 2018.

According to the bill, the bond, established by the Department of Homeland Security, would be between $2,500-$10,000 and would be reviewed yearly.

“And when they go home, that bond is released,” King said. “That would be one of the best ways we could bring in temporary work here and not just have them just infiltrate across the countryside, which has been our experience.”

Before the event started, three people gathered outside the restaurant to peacefully protest King. Jackie Stellish of Sioux City was one of them.

"He is not like other officials and I know the Rotary has hosted other elected officials. He is not like other elected officials," Stellish said.

King took home his narrowest election win three weeks ago for a ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, beating Democrat J.D. Scholten 50 percent to 47 percent.

Katie Peikes is IPR's agriculture reporter