Disagreement over funding cuts from the stalled Farm Bill has led to a Congressional gridlock.
Discussion about the delayed bill topped conversation during former Gov. Tom Vilsack's campaign for President Obama stop in Storm Lake Friday morning.
Earlier this week, Vilsack said House Republicans had the support to pass the nearly $500 billion bill, set to expire on Sunday, but are now delaying the vote until after November's election, when deeper cuts can be made to food stamp funding and other "dependency" programs.
While commodity programs and food stamps will continue if the bill lapses, almost 40 programs established through legislation in 2008 will end, following the conclusion of the fiscal year.
Extensions can prove to be challenging, the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture told a group of a dozen and a half local residents during a roundtable event at Grand Central Coffee Station.
"If you extend the Farm Bill for another year or two, it means you will ultimately have to cut it more deeply when you get to a five-year program," Vilsack explained. "That's the conversation folks don't want to have before an election."
Iowa's agriculture sector will likely feel the biggest blow from funding cuts, one local farmer said.
"When you have to make those cuts, you have to start cutting into the farm future, and losing things like research," he said. "I think this year, with the drought, demonstrates the value of research. What the geneticists and corn breeders have done with the plant---it's absolutely phenomenal... with this year one of the shortest for moisture, but in the top 10 yield, that's unheard of."
Being on the cutting edge of innovation will create homegrown jobs, allowing the middle class to be rebuilt from the "middle-out."
Building the country's bio-economy sector through production of chemicals and fibers, such as using hog manure to make asphalt or dandelion stems for rubber, will put the economy on the uptick, as well as the creation of an infrastructure bank to fund major projects, Vilsack said.
"It's really important for folks to understand this election is a choice," he explained. "The president turned the economy around, and took us off the dangerous course that devastated our economy. Do we really want to go back?"
Deficit reduction, healthcare, higher education and energy policies were also talking points during Vilsack's nearly hour-long roundtable event.
The Christie Vilsack congressional campaign on Thursday released the results of a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR), which shows a two-point lead for the five-term incumbent, with King at 46 percent and Vilsack at 44 percent, with 7 percent still undecided and independent candidate Martin Monroe of Ida Grove receiving 4 percent. Another poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows King at 48 percent and Vilsack at 45.
The samples, 577 and 400 potential voters respectively, have a margin of error that potentially places the contest in a dead heat.
Vilsack claimed King is "losing steam" because he has failed to address the needs of the middle class, with a lead whittled from 16 percent in an initial poll in mid-2011 down to 2 percent this month.
King's campaign issued a statement in response, accusing Vilsack and liberal allies of "a smear campaign" and "dishonest political ads." They acknowledged that "every vote will count" in the close race, but expressed confidence that a platform of repealing the Obama health care plan, a Balanced Budget Amendment and harnessing all forms of domestic energy will prevail Nov. 6.
According to the Vilsack campaign, the GQRR poll shows potential voters split on King's job approval, 41 percent in favor to 44 percent opposed.
The polling firms are not independent sources, however. GQRR is a consulting firm for hire that specializes in political polling and campaign strategy. Similarly, PPP is a for-hire firm founded by a Democrat pollster. While the firms are respected for their past performance in predicting election outcomes, no clearly independent polling research has been done in the Iowa race.
The website eletionprojection.com has King projected with a 2.4% lead, while some Republican-leaning pundits have the margin at 4 percent in favor of King. A heavy effort by Democrats to increase absentee ballot requests have that party leading in requests with 67.2 percent Democrat, 21.4 percent no party and 11.6 percent Republican.