Donald J. Trump attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday for his support for farmers, saying his main rival for the Republican presidential nomination would be a “disaster” for the country’s agricultural industry.
Mr. Trump claimed at a rally in Iowa that Mr. DeSantis would outsource American agricultural jobs overseas and oppose the federal mandate on ethanol, a fuel made from corn and other crops. Support for ethanol, which Iowa is a national leader in production, is a quadrennial issue in presidential elections in this early voting state.
In 2017, Mr. DeSantis supported legislation that would end the renewable fuel standard, a nearly two-decade-old standard that requires refiners to blend biofuel into gasoline nationwide. The policy is opposed by some conservatives, who see the mandate as onerous government regulation.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Friday, Mr Trump touted his record of delivering on priorities for conservative farmers, including increasing the farm tax exemption limit and replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement. Then, he eagerly highlighted what he claimed was his rival’s history of fighting an issue that carries outsized political weight in Iowa.
“He fought for years to kill every job supported by this vital industry,” he said of ethanol. “If he had his way, Iowa’s entire economy would absolutely collapse.”
A spokesman for Mr. DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment.
The event marked Mr. Trump’s first major event in the state in nearly four months, after a rally planned for May was canceled by the campaign, which cited possible severe weather.
Held in a convention center near the Nebraska border, the rally was packed with voters from the neighboring – and non-early voting – state.
“I hope Nebraska is represented here,” Mr. Trump said as the crowd erupted in cheers. “That’s a big contingent.”