Each week, when Congress wraps up its work in Washington, D.C., I can’t wait to return home to Iowa. Most weekends, that means heading out on my 99 County Tour to connect with folks, share updates on what I’m working on in the Senate on their behalf, and hear about the issues they’re facing. I also get the opportunity to visit with a number of local reporters who help keep Iowans informed and up to date as I visit each county.

The 99 County Tour is an Iowa tradition that folks in our state have come to expect of the people who represent them, and one that I’m honored to partake in year in and year out. There’s just no better way to represent Iowans than to be out meeting with and hearing directly from folks in every corner of our state, which is why, since first serving in the U.S. Senate, I’ve remained committed to completing my 99 County Tour every single year, including holding public town halls. Just recently, I completed my seventh consecutive year of my annual tradition of visiting every single one of Iowa’s 99 counties.

As someone who grew up on a small family farm in southwest Iowa—and now as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee—I know firsthand the hard work Iowa’s farmers do every day to feed and fuel the world. This year, I met with several farmers and producers—some who go back generations in their trade—to hear about some of the most pressing issues they face, such as the workforce shortage and how it has impacted hiring. I’ve also heard from them about the threat from the Biden Administration to hit farmers with a “farm-to-table” tax hike by eliminating stepped-up in basis.

In addition, with 99 percent of Iowa’s businesses being small businesses, there’s no question these hardworking men and women are the backbone of our state’s economy. That’s why, as a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I’ve made fighting for Iowa’s small businesses a top priority and had the opportunity to meet directly with several small business owners and employees, especially in regards to the workforce and coming back from the pandemic.

From holding multiple discussions on ways to expand access to child care, to touring one of Iowa’s community colleges to hear about workforce training in the most cutting edge industries, to hosting a number of my own open and public town halls, I’ve made hearing from and supporting Iowa’s families and communities critical to this year’s 99 County Tour.

During the final few public town halls on this year’s tour, Iowans consistently shared their frustrations with the reckless spending spree Washington Democrats are on. They do not want to foot the bill for a massive expansion of the federal government, including harmful policies like the Green New Deal. In addition, Iowans expressed their concern and heartbreak over President Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left Americans and our allies behind Taliban lines.

As a lifelong Iowan, it’s an honor to represent the people of our great state in Congress. I also understand how important it is for Iowans to hear directly from our elected officials. This tradition of visiting every one of our state’s counties—which was started by my partner in the Senate and our senior Senator, Chuck Grassley—is the gold standard for representative government, and it’s why I’ve been committed to completing it every year since being elected to the United States Senate.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Iowans know what’s best for Iowa—and I’ll continue translating their feedback into actions while fighting for them in Washington, D.C.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.