Grassley’s tour makes a local stop

Grassley’s tour makes a local stop
Date August 19, 2005
Section(s) Local News

NDN Staff Writer

It is not likely that a more diverse group of people have gathered on the Harlan Roorda farm southeast of Prairie City than the one Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley brought with him on Thursday afternoon.

Representatives from nearly 70 countries gathered in Roorda’s backyard, sitting on bales of hay to get a feeling for rural Iowa life.

Grassley’s Ambassadors Tour made the stop at the Roorda farm to “showcase Iowa’s resources, facilitate greater economic collaboration between Iowa and other countries and expose Iowa to the rich diversity of the world community,” Grassley said in a press release.

Following brief remarks from Grassley, the ambassadors were free to tour the Roorda farm, including the corn and soybean fields, cattle lots and view the farm machinery.

Every other year, Grassley invites each country with an embassy located in Washington, D.C., to send their ambassador and spouse to Iowa. If the ambassador is unable to participate, the embassy has the option of sending another designee.

Incredibly, Grassley is the only senator who organizes such tours to hishome state, although a staff member of another congressman came along on this year’s tour. Pam Harkey, a staffer for Congressman Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, said a small tour was conducted in her state in June. Now, she said, she is traveling with Grassley for ideas to expand her state’s own tours.

“Our agriculture is very different,” Harkey said. “We have wheat, cattle, oil and gas. Any program that brings such a diverse group to our country is good for us all.”

Grassley said his tours sprang from the 1980s farm crisis. Fostering good relations with new and existing trading partners is an integral part of Grassley’s work as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade issues.

The tours are completely funded by private, individual and corporate sponsors.

In addition to the family farm, Grassley’s tour took the ambassadors to the John Deere plant in Waterloo, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, the Amana Colonies and the Iowa State Fair, among many other sites.

Grassley took a few minutes to answer questions and said he was concerned about the potential buyout of Maytag.

“Whoever buys it, I’ll do my darndest to make sure jobs stay in Newton,” Grassley said. “And I’ve communicated that to the two potential buyers, Whirlpool and Ripplewood.”

Grassley said he has also spoken with Newton management of Maytag and he said he felt everyone involved was committed to maintaining the reputation of the company.


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