FARM-BOOK-102

Corn ready to be harvested.

Thumbs up to a small victory in the battle to save the Renewable Fuel Standard. 

Environmental Protection Agency officials rolled out the RFS standards for blending bio-fuels into the nation's gas supply. The result: largely unchanged from this year.

That's a win for Iowa, since recent proposals would have slashed the amount of ethanol required in gasoline, something the oil industry has sought for more than a decade.

The issue has pit Midwestern Republicans against those from the Oil Belt, namely Chuck Grassley vs. Ted Cruz of Texas. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, nominated for a position in the Trump administration, has been stuck in limbo due to Cruz' anger over the issue.

Reuters reported Friday that President Trump agreed to a sit down with Big Oil to discuss further its desire to winnow RFS in the future. But, at least for now, the ethanol mandate remains intact. And that's a win for Iowa. 

Thumbs down to Republicans in Iowa Legislature already drooling over the prospect of tax cuts.

The state budget is bare bones and in need of constant triage. School funding is too low. Medicaid is a mess. And, still, dozens of schools districts receive less than their neighbors.

And yet, it's tax cuts that sit atop the list of legislative priorities for the 2018 session, GOP lawmakers said.

Iowa's 2013 tax cuts were bad policy and continue to cost the state millions. The last thing Iowa needs is another round. At some point, providing basic services must take priority.

Thumbs up to a coalition of Quad-Cities organizations and schools, which this week were honored for an effort to boost reading among elementary students.

National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, represented by Ron Fairchild, highlighted his organization's award at an event hosted by United Way of the Quad-Cities Area.

The program seeks to boost grade-level reading attainment among third-grade students. It's widely considered a key metric that correlates with future educational success. 

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