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Muhlbauer visits Fort Dodge

Democratic candidate has announced his bid for U.S. senate

Dave Muhlbauer, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, is advocating for country of origin labeling for meat products.

“What happens is when we have country of origin labeling, you have to identify where your meat came from,” said Muhlbauer, a fifth-generation farmer from Manilla. “So if it was U.S. raised it would be labeled that way. Right now, packing plants can bring in meat from South America, Mexico, Canada, import it, cut it up here and repackage it and stamp it as U.S. beef. It floods our market with other beef from other countries and hurting us here locally.”

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has said in recent weeks that he will continue the process of developing a country of origin labeling rule, according to published news reports.

Muhlbauer announced his candidacy in May. Three other Democrats have announced their bid to challenge for Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s seat.

Muhlbauer held a meet and greet at Sports Page Bar and Grill Friday night.

“I grew up campaigning,” Muhlbauer said. “My Grandpa Louis was a state representative and a county supervisor in Crawford County. My dad followed in his footsteps and was a state representative and then I followed in his footsteps and became a county supervisor in Crawford County.”

Running for senate is something that has been on Muhlbauer’s mind for over a year.

“This is a dream spot to run for because it could do so much good for the direction of our state and building for future generations,” he said.

Muhlbauer credited J.D. Scholten, of Sioux City, who was the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in the 2018 and 2020 elections, for inspiring him to run.

“J.D. Scholten was out at the farm last fall and he said, ‘I think you should run for that spot if that’s your dream.’ He kind of gave me that nudge,” Muhlbauer said.

Muhlbauer lives not far from where he grew up on the family farm in Crawford County.

“We raise hogs and cattle and corn and beans,” he said. “We bale hay, the whole nine yards. We have horses. It’s a great family operation.”

Muhlbauer said he’s frustrated that antitrust laws are not being enforced.

“Four big packing plants control 85% of the meat,” he said. “With what happened with COVID and our food supply chain and how that’s been exposed for how weak it is because we are so consolidated. The corporate farm structure is not helping us. It’s not helping our main streets. It’s not helping our family farmers. We need to get that profit back to the family farms.

“Our economies in agriculture thrives, not when it goes to $1,000 head profit for beef for steer or heifer, is what they make in a lot of cases. That’s funneled through very few at the top. But yet people at the grocery store pay two or three times the price of beef. People working in terrible conditions in packing plants and not getting paid very well. And we aren’t making ends meet as cattle producers.”

COVID-19 vaccines

Muhlbauer said getting the COVID-19 vaccine should not be a political issue.

“I strongly encourage vaccinations,” he said. “I got vaccinated because I don’t want to expose my grandma or my kids or people I love in my community. Get vaccinated.”

He added, “At the end of the day people have to take accountability for themselves.”

Student loan debt

Muhlbauer is not in favor of canceling student loan debt.

“Right now we need to look at expanding the Pell Grants,” he said. “They have not been increased for a long time. We need to look at options as far as long-term low interest loans for students. But to wipe it (student loan debt) right off the bat — no.”

Minimum wage

Muhlbauer favors a minimum wage increase. He did not specify how much he would want to see it raised to. He does not support a universal basic income.

“At the end of the day, we know that our current minimum wage is not of living standard,” he said. “We need to get wages up.”

Muhlbauer said he favors raising the corporate tax rate.

“Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) pays less in taxes than his average workers,” Muhlbauer said. “That’s not right. We need to look at raising the corporate tax rate. We need to roll back Trump’s tax breaks for the ultra rich.”

Mental health

According to Muhlbauer, 1 in 5 children from 13 to 18 are dealing with mental health issues.

“We (state) are ranked near the bottom for mental health services,” he said. “That’s horrible — so it’s got to be included in our health care plan, expanding ACA in Medicaid and Medicare so mental health is included. If you don’t get out in front of those people with mental health issues and they end up in jail or the ER, it costs us more down the road. If you get people the help they need when they need it up front, they end up leading a better life.”

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