Weekly News Roundup: Trump Tariffs Worry Iowa Pork Producers in Wake of China Backlash

Also: Thousands march across Iowa for stronger gun laws as Steve King mocks mass shooting survivors on Facebook, Iowa food activist dies, former Story County treasurer fired from Iowa Finance Authority for sexual harassment

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The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

President Trump’s recent announcement that he would impose tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese products has made Iowa farmers fearful about the potential impact on the state’s agricultural export market. In response to Trump’s decision, China announced on Friday that it would impose tariffs of its own on $3 billion worth of American products including pork. That same day, the Des Moines Register reported that concerns about a potential trade war set off by Trump’s tariffs had already cost Iowa pork producers $240 million from declining prices. When Trump made the announcement earlier this month, every member of Iowa’s congressional delegation joined together to oppose the decision. Former Gov. Terry Branstad, who now serves as Trump’s ambassador to China, is aware of the concerns of Iowa pork producers, according to Iowa Soybean Association CEO Kirk Leeds, who recently met with Branstad. He “was adamant that this president is working quite hard to get the attention of the Chinese,” Leeds told the Register. “And he thinks that’s an important step that needs to take place.”

Iowa Finance Authority Director, a Former Story County Treasurer, Fired for Sexual Harassment

Dave Jamison, the former director of the Iowa Finance Authority, was fired from that position last week by Gov. Kim Reynolds over allegations of sexual harassment. Reynolds announced Jamison’s termination on Saturday. “On Friday evening, the governor’s office was made aware of credible allegations of sexual harassment against Director Jamison,” Reynolds spokesperson Brenna Smith said in a statement that did not elaborate further. Jamison, a Republican, also formerly served as a Story County treasurer.

Thousands March Across Iowa in Support of Stronger Gun Laws as Steve King Mocks Mass Shooting Survivors

Hundreds of thousands of protesters supporting stronger gun control measures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting in February gathered throughout the United States and across Iowa on Saturday. The event, called March for Our Lives, drew well over 1,000 people to the steps of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. Later that night in Ames, Congressman Steve King attended a fundraiser co-hosted by the Story County Republican Party called Celebrating What Connects Us, at which he reportedly blamed mass shootings not on guns but “mind-altering” medications, families that lacked father figures, and “taking morality out of our schools.” On Facebook, King’s campaign page has spent the past month posting memes mocking the high school students who survived the Parkland massacre and are now speaking out in favor of gun law reforms. One post criticized Emma Gonzalez, who gave an emotional speech at the March for Our Lives protest in Washington, DC. “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; [sic] hence their right to self defense,” it read.

Respected Food Activist Dies

Sonia Kendrick, the founder of the nonprofit Feed Iowa First, died last Tuesday at the age of 40. Kendrick founded the nonprofit in Cedar Rapids in 2011. It partners with churches and other organizations, growing vegetables to donate to charities that help feed the hungry. Her obituary asked people to donate to Feed Iowa First or “another organization that provides support for veterans or food-insecure Iowans.”

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.