Sen. Charles E. Grassley defended his intent to apply for a grant from the federal government for his farm business as part of President Donald Trump’s $12 billion bailout for farmers as they weather the fallout of his ongoing trade war.
All farmers get the same deal, said Grassley, who grows corn and soybeans on his 750-acre farm in Iowa.
“This is something you get because you are a farmer — equal treatment for everybody,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday during his weekly conference call with reporters from his home state. “It is not something special for Chuck Grassley because he is a senator.”
Grassley joined Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana as the only other lawmaker who has said he will accept the Trump handout.
The Washington Post reached out to 27 members of Congress who own agricultural businesses that are eligible for the bailout. Twelve said they would not apply for money. Thirteen declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.
Grassley and Tester have criticized the president’s ongoing trade war with China and the European Union, which have slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, like soybeans.
“Farmers and ranchers are being used as pawns in a trade war they certainly didn’t ask for,” Tester said in a July statement. “This trade war is eliminating access to international markets, driving down commodity prices, and putting a financial pinch on agriculture families that hasn’t been felt since the 1980’s.”
Grassley remains heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of his farm, along with his son, Robin.
He argued that his decades of farming have helped him retain an intimate understanding of his constituents’ economic needs.
“I would brag to you, actually, that this experience of mine — not being an absentee landlord but suffering what farmers suffer and being joyful when they are joyful — is a good experience for a senator from an agricultural state to have,” Grassley said.
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