Gazette Daily News Briefing, December 1


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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Thursday, December 1.

It will be sunny and back above 40 degrees Thursday. According to the National Weather Service there will be a high near 41 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area on Thursday. On Thursday night it will be mostly clear, with a low of around 32 degrees. It will remain breezy, with wind speeds gusting as high as 30 mph.

Iowa’s four U.S. House members voted Wednesday to approve legislation designed to avert a potential strike by railroad workers.

The legislation is the result of a compromise reached by railroad companies and a majority of the unions that represent rail workers, the Associated Press reported. A strike was still possible because some unions rejected the proposed agreement.

The House vote was 290-137, with 79 Republicans joining the majority of Democrats in supporting the bill, and eight Democrats joining the majority of Republicans who opposed it. The bill next moves to the U.S. Senate.

The legislation provides for 24 percent raises and $5,000 in bonuses retroactive to 2020 along with one additional paid leave day. That deal was agreed to by most, but not all, of the unions representing rail workers.

There has been a call from multiple sectors of politics and finance, including President Joe Biden, to stop the rail strike due to fears of the effect it could have on day to day life and the national economy.

A proposed ban on genetically modified corn imports to Mexico would have substantial impacts on Iowa farmers if carried out, farm groups say.

There’s still uncertainty about the details of the proposed policy, but U.S. officials said a total ban on genetically modified corn — which makes up more than 90 percent of corn grown in the United States — would cause a drop in the price of corn and in farmers’ profitability in the coming years.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador initiated the ban by presidential decree in 2020, with a scheduled start date of Jan. 1, 2024. The decree stemmed from concerns about the health and safety of genetically modified products.

Some Mexican officials have signaled the ban would affect corn going into food with exceptions made for corn designated for livestock feed, which makes up the vast majority of U.S. exports to the country. Obrador, who had previously said the ban would affect all corn imports, said last week in a news conference he’s looking at making an exception for livestock feed, according to Bloomberg.

If the ban covers all corn, agriculture experts said Iowa’s farmers would take a hit and would likely see their balance sheets in the red.

“It’s going to be extremely devastating if that was to happen,” said Lance Lillibridge, chair of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and a corn farmer in Benton County. “And it needs to be taken extremely seriously by everyone.”

According to an estimate from World Perspectives, the U.S. corn farming sector would experience a net $3.56 billion loss in the first year under the ban, and $13.61 billion in losses over 10 years.

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