As we finish up the weekend, I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve been working on to help make sure our communities, small businesses, farmers, and each and every one of you have the necessary resources during this difficult time.
This pandemic has been hard on all of us, but we’re going to get through it. Just this week, I was selected as a member of President Trump’s new task force on exploring ways to safely re-open our economy. I’ll continue to bring Iowans’ voices to the table and ensure we strike the balance in keeping folks safe and getting them back on their feet.
Supporting Our Farmers, Iowa’s Ag Economy
Iowa’s farmers and producers are the backbone of our state’s rural economy. From sun up to sun down, they work tirelessly to keep food on store shelves and in pantries across the state and that’s more important now than ever before.
From our livestock and dairy farmers, to our ethanol and biofuels producers, everyone is feeling the impact of COVID-19. As I continue to listen to Iowans across the state, I’ve made it a priority to hear from our farmers and producers.
This week I hosted my fifth telephone town hall since the outbreak of COVID-19 and was joined by my friend and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. The two of us took questions from Iowa’s farmers and producers across the state.
After hearing from our state’s ag community, this week, I called on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide clarity for Iowa’s farmers so they can access the relief they need. Additionally, I joined a bipartisan effort to urge support for our dairy farmers and provide stability for our nation’s food supply.
Unfortunately, as we’re all too aware, COVID-19 is causing pork plants in Iowa and across the heartland to limit or close production. So, I’ve teamed up with Senator Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of our colleagues asking for action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork food supply chain.
The Paycheck Protection Program is working!
As a member of the Small Business Committee, I’m continuing to listen to small businesses from every corner and county of the state. This week, I held a virtual town hall meeting with more than 120 Iowa members of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
A few weeks ago, I worked across the aisle to pass the Phase 3 relief package that included the Paycheck Protection Program to aid our small businesses. In Iowa, we’ve seen the success of this program, which has provided over 29,000 loans to our small businesses and more than $4.3 billion into our state’s economy. Unfortunately, Democrats blocked additional funding for this important program, which ran out of money this week.
Folks, our workers and small business owners need this program up and running. I’m calling on my friends across the aisle to put partisan politics aside and to replenish this fund, and fast.
The Gazette covered my efforts.
Protecting Iowa’s Seniors
We must continue looking out for our fellow Iowans, especially our seniors and those who may be most at-risk, as we combat COVID-19. That’s why I’ve made cracking down on scammers and protecting Iowa’s seniors a top priority.
I had the chance to connect with thousands of Iowa seniors on another telephone town hall this week to answer questions on a range of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide more information to protect against scammers.
Last month, after hearing about a scam targeting Iowa seniors, I called on the administration to put additional measures in place to educate seniors and provide consumers with information about how to seek recourse if they are targeted. And this week, the Department of Justice issued guidance for seniors on detecting and reporting COVID-19 related scams. This is an important step in helping protect our seniors.
Click here or on the image above for the video I recorded after my telephone town hall with Iowa seniors.
Standing Up for Survivors
As a survivor myself, supporting fellow survivors and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence is personal to me. This week, I joined my Democratic and Republican colleagues to call for additional support for survivors and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to be included in future COVID-19 relief legislation.
I also had the chance to speak directly with one of Iowa’s leading support organizations, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Beth Barnhill, the group’s Executive Director, said, “We commend Senator Ernst for signing onto this important bipartisan letter to address the immediate needs of survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Ernst has spent considerable time and energy having conversations, asking questions, and getting to know Iowa’s victim service programs. We so appreciate the commitment the senator has made to better understand how survivors are coping with the chaos of these unprecedented times, and how we can work together to come up with concrete solutions to meet the diverse needs of survivors and the programs that serve them.”
At a time when people who experience domestic violence are at increased risk, and requests for sexual assault and domestic violence-related services have sharply increased, additional funding for these programs is critical.