Trump visit targets technology, politics

Back to Iowa, Trump faces some disgruntled independents

CEDAR RAPIDS — Whether by coincidence or coordination, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ agenda for a meeting Wednesday with President Donald Trump in Cedar Rapids is on the same wavelength as the president’s Technology Week focus.

The president will visit Kirkwood Community College to see examples of technology that “frankly, may not be at the top of your mind when you think about technology advancements in the United States,” said Ray Starling, a special assistant to the president for agriculture, agricultural trade and food assistance as part of the White House Economic Council.

After the Kirkwood visit, Trump will have a campaign-style rally at 7 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center, 370 1st Ave. NE. in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Trump is visiting the college, in part, because it is home to one of the first programs in the country to focus on agricultural geospatial technology and precision farming, Starling said in a media briefing. The program has been honored by the National Science Foundation.

Among the demonstrations Trump will see is technology that guides farm implements and allows farmers to collect data about pesticide and fertilizer needs, soil moisture and yields, Starling said. That takes on added importance this year because net farm income is expected to decline for a fourth year in a row, falling to half of what it was four years ago, Starling said.

“Much of precision agriculture technology and other technology used on the farm and in rural American is dependent upon access to the web,” he said. The president recognizes that the “penetration of the availability of the web has obviously lagged in rural areas.”

Connectivity is one of the priorities Reynolds will be lobbying the president on at Kirkwood.

“We want Iowans to be able live anywhere in the state of Iowa no matter the size of the community or where it is located to have high-speed internet and connectivity where they can take an idea, create a business, grow it into a successful company and market their products to the world,” Reynolds said at a news conference. “It’s really important that we continue to provide that level of high-speed internet to every single corner of the state.”

At Kirkwood, Trump and Reynolds will be joined by Sonny Perdue and Wilbur Ross, secretaries of the Agriculture and Commerce departments, respectively, and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey.

It also will serve as a send-off for former Gov. Terry Branstad, who will leave Friday for China where he will serve as ambassador.

Reynolds also plans to lobby for White House approval of Iowa’s stopgap health insurance proposal to provide a coverage option for 72,000 Iowans on individual plans.

The plan, put forth last week by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen, asks the federal government to approve a measure he hoped would both keep a statewide health insurer in the state and also lure others to the state’s marketplace. The measure — contingent on approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — would provide consumers with age- and income-based tax credits as well as use a reinsurance mechanism for costly medical claims.

In response to the Trump visit, a protest is planned from 5-7:30 p.m. outside the Cellular Center. And at 2:30 p.m., Linn County Democrats will be hosting a community conversation in Room A, Beems Auditorium, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 5th Ave. SE. The event is open to the public.