Steve Reeder, candidate for Iowa Fourth Congressional District, spoke at a meeting of the Crawford County Republican Women on the evening of February 25.
He stopped by the Denison Bulletin and Review office that afternoon to talk about why he is running for office.
Reeder lives in Arnolds Park with Brenda, his wife of 31 years; they have two daughters.
He has been in the real estate brokerage, development and construction business for 35 years.
“I’ve traveled these roads a lot between Omaha and Arnolds Park,” he said.
He has worked on projects in Le Mars, Sheldon, Spirit Lake and Fostoria, as well as some projects out of state.
Reeder decided to run because he has always closely followed politics and is passionate about Iowa.
“I got tired of seeing these small towns deteriorating and losing population,” he said.
The industrial agriculture model is not working for the state and he doesn’t see that situation getting better.
“I see it being less profitable (with) less control by some of the farmers,” Reeder said. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to put my real estate on pause and see if I can go serve and offer my expertise in business in Washington.’”
He has heard many times in his travels around the state that Iowa needs workers.
Students can be identified at an early age as to what kind of job they can be guided toward, he said.
“Some of them are destined for a four-year college,” he said. “Some of them are more skilled with their hands and would probably be better at electrical or plumbing or light manufacturing.”
He said kids should be guided and encouraged to stay in the state.
“We need to try to find ways to keep businesses here or bring in the light manufacturing,” Reeder said. “I’ve talked to firms that have locations like Omaha or Des Moines and have a satellite facility in a rural area of our district and they have a hard time finding employees here.”
Advertisements for jobs with those employers get twice as many applications for jobs in the cities as they do in rural areas, he said.
“I know it’s hard to stem that population decrease, but I want to do everything I can to incentivize kids to stay in their home county and hometown and work here,” Reeder said.
Work needs to be done on the Farm Bill to return profitability to agriculture in the state, he said.
Reeder believes markets other than just those for corn and soybeans should be explored.
Other crops or other uses for farmland should be considered, he said.
He would surround himself with a team of experts to work on the problems.
“What I’ve done in my business is I’ve surrounded myself with professionals when I’ve done a development; people that helped me build something,” Reeder said.
He has already set up an advisory team of agriculture, banking and medical specialists.
Reeder said some issues may require pain to address properly.
He said President Donald Trump’s efforts on trade were needed, even though they had negative effects.
“The United States was being taken advantage of. He (Trump) said, ‘No, we’re going to stop this imbalance and put the United States in a more favorable positon.’”
Trump’s actions hurt agriculture and several other industries, Reeder said.
“Unfortunately our ag industry took it on the chin a little bit there,” he said, “but I do think we have to look at some of the short-term problems for long-term gain.”
Some farmers have told him that the Unites States is producing too much and needs to cut back.
More set-aside acres might help prices, he said.
“If we can decrease the supply maybe the demand will go up and we’ll get more for our crops,” Reeder said.
Water quality is another issue he is concerned about.
“With all the tillage, all the water runs off and we don’t have the nutrients in the soil,” he said. “If we went to more of a no-till model, we would solve the problem of all the water runoff (and) maybe some of the flooding,” he said. “If you don’t till, and put on cover crops, the water goes down rather than run off.”
He said he would like to see decreased use of insecticides and herbicides to improve water quality.
“I know our farmers want to be good stewards of the land, but they have to be profitable so they have gone to this big monoculture model,” Reeder said.
Walmart and internet buying are part of what is harming rural communities, he said.
He wants to hear other ideas about how to help small towns survive.
Reeder said he and his wife have been working hard to get his name out.
“We’ve covered the whole 39 counties and now we’re concentrating our efforts on getting to the people who will show up at the primary,” he said.
Reeder said he is a conservative and wants less government.
He’s frustrated with the ineffectiveness in Washington, D.C. and the Democrats and Republicans who have forgotten about their constituents at home.
He’d also like to help find ways to solve the problem of the lack of mental healthcare services.
Reeder said he’d rather see foreign aid funds go toward mental healthcare at home.
He has signed the term limits pledge, which is a pledge to not serve more than three terms in the House of Representatives.
“I have no interest in a career in politics,” Reeder said. “Too many of these folks have made a career out of it.”
He said two terms might be enough for him.