Cullen: Hubbell Wants to “Eliminate the Corporate Chokehold on Iowa State”

Hubbell wants to restore funding to ISU's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, he told the Pulitizer Prize-winning editorialist

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell supports a strong increase in state funding for higher education including for Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, whose funding Big Ag-backed Republicans eliminated during the 2017 legislative session.

In his latest editor’s notebook for the Storm Lake Times, Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen described a recent campaign rally Hubbell held in the town with Tim Gannon, a former staffer for Gov. Tom Vilsack who’s running on the Democratic ticket for secretary of agriculture.

“It’s going to take the Regents, the president, and a governor who are focused on the best education and research,” Hubbell told Cullen. “That starts with restoring the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and making sure we are not beholden to big corporations.”

Cullen wrote that Gannon gave Hubbell “a nice county blacktop opening” to discuss these issues at the event. “Hubbell drove right in with his comments about increasing soil conservation,” Cullen went on. “He told me that he wants to eliminate the corporate chokehold on Iowa State, but that will require a significant increase in state funding. Appropriations are down 20 percent at the Regents institutions over the past decade.”

On Wednesday, Hubbell’s opponent, Gov. Kim Reynolds, defended the GOP’s budget cuts to the state’s regents universities after the universities blamed the cuts for their drop in a recent US News and World Report ranking.

Cullen has focused much of his criticism of higher ed in Iowa on the influence of corporate ag at ISU. In 2017, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “editorials fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.”

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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.