IFU urges Sen. Ernst to focus relief effort on farmers, not coal companies

May 15, 2020

The Honorable Senator Joni Ernst

730 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Ernst:

On behalf of the family farm members of the Iowa Farmers Union, I write to express our concern regarding some of your efforts in response to the economic impact of our current pandemic.

It has come to our attention that you were a co-signer, on April 7, of a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Powell asking them that BlackRock, Inc., a large asset manager which has been retained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to administer part of the terms of the CARES Act, assure that commercial fossil fuel entities not be excluded from these funds.  Why did you join this effort?

This past January, the chief executive officer of BlackRock stated in his annual letter that his firm, the world’s largest money manager, would overhaul its investing strategy to make sustainability the “new standard” for investing.  He said that “a fundamental reshaping of finance” is coming about because climate change is becoming “a defining factor” and that climate change poses a risk to long-term viability.  BlackRock had already made known that it is moving away from investments in the coal industry.

In an apparent response to this announcement from BlackRock and to a March 27 letter to Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell from thirty environmental protection organizations questioning the retaining of such a large investment entity as BlackRock to manage a significant portion of the CARES Act, you joined sixteen colleagues to urge both the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to assure that BlackRock must act “to avoid conflicts of interest”.  To whose interests do you refer?

The Iowa Farmers Union is deeply disappointed in your decision to seek assistance for the fossil fuel industry at a time when Iowa family farmers are suffering from the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic.  Instead, our farmers and our ethanol industry deserve your support first and foremost.

We urge you to focus your support on family farming, sustainable energy, and other enterprises that contribute to a livable future and long-term viability for Iowa.  

Sincerely, 

Aaron Lehman

President, Iowa Farmers Union

Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883
[email protected]