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Ernst Calls on Vilsack to Conduct Critical USDA Oversight

Demands plan for E15 waiver

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, questioned Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack on current agriculture issues, including telework at the USDA and nationwide sales of E15.

Ernst is also requiring Vilsack to address her concerns about California’s Proposition 12 setting the stage for a patchwork of state polices that undermine our farmers’ ability to feed a hungry nation, as well as overpayment rates within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that are costing the taxpayer roughly $1 billion each month in administrative errors.

She advocated for a comprehensive Farm Bill by saying, “For us to be resorting to a kick the can down the road mentality isn’t an option for our farmers and our ranchers, and it should not be an option for Congress either. I truly hope we can come to the table and negotiate a bill that actually focuses on the farm.”



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USDA Telework:

After a USDA supervisor blew the whistle on USDA headquarters resembling a “ghost town” due to its employees failing to show up and revealing that they are not working productively or efficiently for the American people, Ernst demanded accountability for the USDA’s tele-“work” policies to ensure USDA employees are serving Iowa farmers, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars.

Nationwide Sale of E15:

Ernst welcomed the long overdue decision to approve year-round sales of E15, but raised concerns about the delay in implementation until 2025. She pushed Vilsack to share his plans for an emergency waiver that would allow nationwide E15 sales this summer and create certainty for Iowa families, corn farmers, ethanol producers, and fuel retailers.


Since August 2023, Ernst has been demanding accountability for the investigations into 24 federal departments and agencies to determine the impact of telework on the delivery and response times of services.

Throughout her time in Congress, Ernst has been a strong advocate for homegrown, Iowa biofuel. Last week, after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final rule to make E15 available year-round for eight Midwest states starting in 2025, shecalled on the Biden administration to enact the rule immediately, ahead of the 2024 summer driving season.