Florida Gov. and Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis told Iowans on Saturday that he has an ambitious plan for the Hawkeye State. If elected, he will relocate the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the American heartland.
He told the audience that the state “will have first dibs” on the USDA. Speaking in Newton, his pledge furthered his platform of removing at least half of the federal government’s footprint from Washington, D.C.
However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Iowa farmers — or farmers anywhere — want Washington bureaucrats camped out in their backyard.
DeSantis “big announcement” was that he would move the USDA to Iowa….
Promising farmers to have bureaucrats in their backyard is shocking…ask a farmer and they would say “leave us alone” https://t.co/oFStFEgTka
— Austin Harris (@AustinHarrisIA) December 3, 2023
DeSantis said that Americans would rather have these agencies operate out of their own communities. He related that many expressed their dissatisfaction with “USDA Washington bureaucrats interfering with how people are farming.”
Saturday’s rally was a landmark in the DeSantis campaign as he completed the “Full Grassley” tour of Iowa. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) makes a point to visit each of the state’s 99 counties every year.
DeSantis declared, “We have to take power out of Washington, D.C.” He reiterated his vow to order cabinet secretaries to produce plans for substantial portions of their agencies to move elsewhere in the country.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds threw her support behind the plan, calling it a “great idea.” She already endorsed her Florida counterpart for the GOP nod in 2024 and said “there’s no better place to put USDA, because there’s no one who knows farming better than Iowans.”
The DeSantis campaign is fixated on a strong showing in Iowa, but he is still struggling for traction. As the Florida governor pressed the flesh there on Saturday, former President Donald Trump addressed a much larger audience and mocked his second-place rival.
The former president remarked on Saturday that the DeSantis campaign is dropping “like a very seriously wounded bird.”
And even with the trek through 99 counties completed, Trump appeared to overshadow his leading challenger. DeSantis insists he will win the Jan. 15 caucuses, and a super PAC backing his run has poured over $16 million into advertising and building an organization in Iowa.
This has not translated into a polling advantage.
The latest composite tracking from RealClearPolitics showed Iowa solidly in Trump’s camp. The former president carried 62% of primary voters to only 13.6% for DeSantis — a seemingly insurmountable difference of 48.4 points.