After Donald Trump courts Iowa farmers, Ron DeSantis PAC unveils agriculture endorsements

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Days after former President Donald Trump courted farmers on the Iowa campaign trail, rival Ron DeSantis unveiled a coalition of agriculture endorsers in the state.

Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting DeSantis' candidacy, launched its "Farmers Never Back Down" coalition on Tuesday. The group is led by 17 farmers, including leaders of major agricultural groups in the state, who have endorsed the Florida governor for the 2024 presidential nomination.

"Gov. DeSantis is the leader we need today for Iowa agriculture and understands the challenges facing Iowa farmers,” said Lance Lillibridge, former president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and chairman of the coalition.

The coalition launch comes two days after Trump visited Iowa, telling an Ottumwa crowd he "I fought for ethanol like no president in history." Trump took aim at DeSantis in the same speech on Sunday, calling him "the sworn enemy of the American farmer."

After his speech, Trump visited a farm northeast of Oskaloosa, where he shook hands with a line of farmers, greeted their wives and left a large Sharpie signature on a John Deere combine.

Former President Donald Trump autographs a combine during a visit to the Vande Voort family farm, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Leighton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Former President Donald Trump autographs a combine during a visit to the Vande Voort family farm, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Leighton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Never Back Down's Tuesday news release did not mention the former president, although Lillibridge said in a statement that "it's time for new leadership."

"Instead of broken promises, it’s time for new leadership — Gov. DeSantis says what he means and does what he says," Lillibridge said. "I know we can count on Governor DeSantis to never back down from defending Iowa farmers.”

The "Farmers Never Back Down" coalition includes former and current leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Cattleman's Association, and the Soil and Water Conservations Districts of Iowa.

What is Ron DeSantis' agriculture platform? What's his stance on biofuels?

DeSantis unveiled his energy policy last month, promising to protect "all liquid fuels, including biofuels, from harmful government regulation."

DeSantis wrote in a Des Moines Register op-ed that he would work with Gov. Kim Reynolds to support the year-round sale of E15, and he would introduce higher ethanol blends, like E30, to consumers.

Iowa is the nation's top producer of ethanol, which is made from corn.

DeSantis' September policy announcement did not include details about the renewable fuel standard, a goal set by the Environmental Protection Agency to mix a certain amount of renewable fuels — like ethanol — into gasoline and diesel. While serving in Congress in 2017, DeSantis co-sponsored a bill that would eliminate the renewable fuel standard.

More: Ron DeSantis' shifting climate change politics: From 'green governor' to 'active hostility'

DeSantis has not launched a formal agriculture platform yet, but his Register op-ed offers a glimpse at his broader positions. He railed against programs that incentivize electric vehicles, arguing it weakens the country to have cars reliant on batteries made in China. He opposed selling farmland to China.

The Florida governor also argued that investing strategies that consider environmental or social impacts could "penalize traditional farming practices, and even disfavor the use of meat" and lead to a farm crisis. He pledged to "repeal all of Biden's harmful regulations on Day 1," and he called the Waters of the United States rule "oppressive."

"As president, I will cut regulations that hamstring our farmers, open new markets for our crops and livestock, incentivize growth and investment, modernize critical infrastructure, secure our agricultural sector from cyber threats, and offer targeted support to farmers where needed," DeSantis wrote.

Galen Bacharier contributed reporting.

Katie Akin is a politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter at @katie_akin.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launches farmer coalition with Iowa ag leaders