There’s no denying that Sioux City, Iowa, is farm country.
Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, this river city has a population of around 80,000. Add North and South Sioux City in South Dakota and Nebraska and the population gets close to 100,000. Surrounded by farmland and home to several meatpacking plants, Sioux City relies on agriculture.
Bill Haafke, of Dakota City, Neb, has been farming for 37 years. He thinks Newt Gingrich is smart but has too much baggage. He’d like to see less power in the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“One of these days food isn’t going to be produced in a lot of these parts of the United States just because regulations are too stiff,” Haafke said.
He said his three kids wouldn’t be where they are in their professional lives if they hadn’t worked on his farm. He took the opportunity to weigh in on recent proposed child labor laws. (Click here for the Harvest story.)
“You’ve got kids working on the farm, the knowledge they’re gaining is just unbelievable, you can’t pay for it,” Haafke said. “Yes, once and a while there’s a farm accident that happens and it’s unfortunate. There are risks in everything.”
At One Stop Meat Shop, a store that specializes in locally sourced, hormone-free meat, I talked with store owner Susan Vanderfeen.
“The demographics do show that the liberal people are more into this local grocery meats thing, but we get both ends of the spectrum,” said Vanderfeen, who also owns a small farm. “Some (of the GOP candidates) want to lower our taxes, which helps the small business guy.”
That brings to mind that agriculture issues are often simply business issues, which people across the country can relate to.
And as we move through the primary season and the debates heat up, we’ll be looking for those echoes in our coverage here at Harvest Public Media.