U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer visits WW Homestead Dairy

Rep. Finkenauer visits WW Homestead Dairy ... Iowa First District U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer visited WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon Wednesday afternoon, July 31, touring the facility and discussing a variety of topics. Pictured above, WW Homestead Dairy co-owner Tom Weighner explains part of the facility’s operating process to Rep. Finkenauer during the tour. Pictured below, Rep. Finkenauer talks with Weighner, as well as Waukon Economic Development Director Ardie Kuhse (photo foreground) and Joe Cunningham of Waukon Economic Development Corporation and Waukon City Manager Dean Hilgerson (left to right in photo background). Standard photos by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

Representative Abby Finkenauer of Iowa’s 1st Congressional District visited Waukon Wednesday, July 31 to tour the WW Homestead Dairy facility. Prior to the tour, Finkenauer was greeted by Director Ardie Kuhse of Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Waukon City Manager Dean Hilgerson, WEDC Board Member Joe Cunningham and Tom Weighner, an owner of WW Homestead Dairy.

Finkenauer, the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, discussed the introduction of the Helping Communities Invest in Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan effort to assist communities in accessing financing for various types of infrastructure needs. Finkenauer indicated that dollars spent on infrastructure provide a great return on investment. She noted that funding is needed in Iowa for roads and bridges and provided an update on the $2 trillion infrastructure package that is being discussed with President Donald Trump.

Weighner discussed regulatory and business trends affecting the day-to-day operations of Midwest dairies. Weighner and Finkenauer also discussed a proposed increase in minimum wage with Finkenauer advising that a regional minimum wage may be an option to increase wages to a level that is in balance with the needs of businesses in rural and urban communities.

Weighner indicated that he encourages school districts to consider moving from 8 oz. to 16 oz. milk containers, which corresponds with the type of equipment used by WW Homestead Dairy. Weighner also indicated school districts have the option to move away from milk cartons completely and use the company’s bulk milk containers and dispensers, an environmentally friendly option that eliminates carton waste. Weighner further advised that some schools and colleges have preferred to purchase bagged milk as an alternative to cartons.

In conclusion, Finkenauer touched on a variety of topics including the challenges facing rural hospitals. Finkenauer said that Medicare reimbursement rate calculations put rural hospitals at a disadvantage and that Medicare reimbursement rates in Iowa are some of the lowest in the country.

Regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), Finkenauer indicated that it will be an improvement for dairy farmers in comparison to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and further emphasized the importance of reaching a trade deal with China, which will also benefit agriculture in Iowa. Finkenauer indicated that ongoing discussions are taking place relating to the USMCA, as are discussions concerning the import of generic prescription drugs from Canada representing an opportunity to lower costs for U.S. patients.

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