I recently wrapped up part one of my 39 County Tour, a promise I made to visit every county in the 4th District at least twice a year. I have learned a lot about the issues that matter most to Iowans in every corner of the district — from Missouri Valley to New Hampton and everywhere in between. Whether those issues and concerns are related to agriculture, workforce, or spending and inflation, I have prioritized listening and meeting with folks across the 4th District so I can be an effective voice in Washington, D.C.
As I travel the district, I hear from many cattle producers who are struggling due to a lack of fairness and transparency in the cattle market. The nation’s four largest meatpackers control over 80% of the cattle processing market, and beef prices continue rising while live cattle prices have remained stagnant. It is clear anti-competitive behavior should be investigated so our independent cattle producers can succeed.
In May, I joined my colleagues in sending a bicameral letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to examine anticompetitive behavior by the four largest meatpackers. Additionally, I called on the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee to hold a hearing on this issue immediately. After we are able to start getting more answers, it will bring us one step closer to finding a commonsense solution.
I have also heard from numerous small business owners who are facing a shortage of workers. Main street businesses and manufacturing companies across the district are finding it difficult to keep up with demand due to a lack of labor, which disrupts our supply chain and stymies economic growth. For that reason, I was pleased to see Governor Reynolds lead the way by ending Iowa’s participation in enhanced federal unemployment insurance. Iowa is open for business, and it is time to get folks back to work and keep our economy growing. That cannot be accomplished if workers are incentivized to stay home.
At the federal level, I have led a number of efforts to expand skills training and STEM education programs to ensure students have the capabilities they need to meet the demands of today’s economy. In February, I successfully led an effort to provide students in mentorship programs with more employment opportunities by incorporating these programs into the national apprenticeship system; and in May, a bill I cosponsored — the Rural STEM Education Research Act — passed the House with bipartisan support. This legislation seeks to assist nonprofits and schools in expanding STEM programs in rural areas.
Many Iowans are also concerned with the rising cost of goods and services. Since President Biden was sworn into office, monthly inflation has quadrupled — rising much higher than expected in both March and April. This is a direct result of this administration’s fiscal policies, pumping money we do not have into the economy. Doing so devalues the dollar, causing the price of goods and services to increase. American workers and families will be stuck paying for Biden’s out-of-control spending — whether by paying more in taxes or paying more at the gas pump and grocery store. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I will continue fighting for a balanced budget, lower taxes, and any policy that will help our rural communities grow and thrive. Unfortunately, the Biden administration’s reckless tax-and-spend policies are moving our economy in the wrong direction.
As we return to normal and continue our recovery from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been particularly important to hear the struggles Iowans are facing — like workforce shortages and the rising cost of goods and services. I will continue listening and taking your concerns and ideas directly to Washington. I am here to serve you and be the 4th District’s voice in the halls of Congress.
Randy Feenstra was born and raised in Hull, Iowa, where he has served as City Administrator, Sioux County Treasurer, and Iowa state Senator. In January, he began serving his first term in Congress, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.