2016 Caucus

March 6th, 2015

Presidential Cattle Call: A Preview of the First Iowa Agriculture Summit

Jeb Bush CPAC

900 likely Iowa Caucusgoers, 250 media members and a slew of their presidential hopefuls. That is what awaits the speakers at Saturday’s Iowa Agriculture Summit. The first time event, produced by GOP power broker Bruce Rastetter, will be different from any multi-candidate event in Iowa history.

“Unfortunately, until now, there has not been a forum solely dedicated to matters that directly affect Iowa farmers who feed and fuel not just the country, but the world,” Rastetter said.

Each of the presidential candidates will address the audience, then have a conversation with Rastetter about agriculture-related issues. Topics will include modern agriculture, renewable fuels, biosciences, GMOs, grain and livestock markets, land conservative and federal subsidies. Each participant will be given 20 minutes on stage.

The Oval Office seekers expected to attend include Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and Scott Walker. Florida Senator Marco Rubio was originally scheduled to attend but backed out this week to attend a family event.

This will be Jeb Bush’s first big event in Iowa. The former Florida governor is one of the GOP’s national frontrunners and is expected to have a fundraising advantage over the rest of the field.

Bush will likely find a more receptive audience than he did last weekend with the libertarian-leaning CPAC crowd or a predominantly social conservative that Bush will face later in the campaign. However, his breadth of knowledge on ag issues will be tested.

The pressure will be on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who vaulted to the top of the polls following a standout performance in January at the Iowa Freedom Summit. As a Midwestern governor, Walker’s knowledge of agri-business should be extensive. We will find out on Saturday.

This unique event will also test the preparedness of the others in the field. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Thursday that he plans to attend. Graham stumbled in January when he gave new infamous hog castrator Joni Ernst an instrument for castrating bulls. Iowa farmers immediately noticed the faux pas. One stumble like that can be forgiven. Repeated instances will severely dampen a candidate’s viability in Iowa.

One candidate who might shine at the Ag Summit is former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He has a farming background and led a state that relies heavily on agriculture.

The ability to relate to Iowa farmers and display a strong knowledge of ag-related issues will be key for all the presidential hopefuls. This is the second major event o the Iowa Caucus calendar. The world will be watching.

Other speakers at the Ag Summit include Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Joni Ernst, Congressmen Rod Blum, Steve King and David Young, former Congressman Tom Latham and former Lt. Governor Patty Judge. She is the lone Democrat who accepted an invitation to the bipartisan event.

The first Iowa Agriculture Summit takes place at the Elwell Center at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday. Doors open at 7:30 am and the program beings at 8:30. Tickets are sold out.

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com 

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.

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