Koble has strong ties to rural Nevada
LVN Editor Emeritus
Clint Koble is bringing a familiar name to this year’s House of Representatives’ race for Congressional District 2, a seat currently held by incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei.
Koble spent almost eight years as the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has spent numerous years in the private sector. During his tenure with the USDA and campaigning for Congress, Koble said he’s travelled extensively throughout rural Nevada and has enjoyed meeting with residents and working with local governments when he was USDA.
Recently, he sat down with LVN to discuss rural issues.
As the former state director, Koble said he’s concerned with the recent tariffs being imposed by the Trump administration. He said agriculture, it seems, has taken a back seat.
One of the areas that was hit hard until the International Trade Commission rescinded the order was a tariff on newsprint for Canada that raised the price of newsprint for U.S. newspapers up to 30 percent. Koble said an editor of a small community newspaper in Nevada told him the tariffs resulted in a price increase of more than 20 percent.
While the tariffs are hurting soy production in the Midwest, he said tariffs haven’t caused too many problems for the beef industry, but he has concerns tariffs could affect the dairy industry in western Nevada, especially with Fallon’s DFA (Dairy Farmers of America) plant that produces dry milk, much of it for export.
Koble said continued tariffs on dairy products could produce a domino affect from dairymen who have invested and expanded their own operations by buying additional cows, equipment and feed while employing more workers.
The tariffs, though, have caused concern for other exports, and that worries Koble. He said the tariffs on the farming industry couldn’t have come at a worse time since the implementation came during the summer before the farmers had an opportunity to harvest their crops. Furthermore, he said lumber is costing more at businesses such as Lowe’s and Home Depot.
“Ag is getting hurt by it, manufacturers are hurt by it,” Koble added.
Koble also dispelled the myth that Canada was taking advantage of the United States in trade because he said the U.S. is exporting more from Canada than Canada is exporting from this country. Koble said trade is all give and take.
Statistics from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, a U.S. government agency, said the U.S. had a $12.5 billion trade surplus for goods and services in 2016, exporting $320.1 billion and importing $307.6 billion. Nevada imported almost $1 billion but exported $1.4 billion in 2017 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Koble discussed trade agreements, saying the administration would rather eliminate some of the agreements than working out any problems.
“If they aren’t working, let’s step in then and fix them,” he said, adding the United States could see other countries buying elsewhere. “We’re losing markets. Other countries are filling in the vacuum, and it may take us years to get some of the export profits back.”
Koble has been following situations that have affected Nevada for years. He said the recent announcement from the Nevada Department of Transportation favoring two routes to extend Interstate 11 from Tonopah to Interstate 80 are the ones he also likes. He said Corridor 2 that extends through Mineral County, west of Fallon and eventually to Fernley provides access to Nevada’s two military installations at Hawthorne and Fallon.
Koble said Congress must be more involved with rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure instead, of what he calls, kicking the can down the road.
“China and so many other countries are investing heavily in their infrastructure,” Noble pointed out, to include their electrical grids, highways, energy and high-speed rail. “We have to play catch up so our bridges don’t fall down.”
Koble said there’s so much infrastructure that needs to be improved in the U.S. including improved broadband for many rural areas and convert energy from fossil fuels to renewable energy. He said some states are already improving their infrastructure, such as Wyoming, which has depended on coal production but is now also creating the biggest wind farm in the U.S. The proposed wind energy project in Laramie County would operate on more than 45 square miles of private and public land and power would be sold to the Colorado-based energy company, Platte River Power Authority.
In Nevada, Koble said high-speed rail between the Los Angeles area and Las Vegas would increase the tourism industry as well as increase regular commerce.
While Koble calls out the need for the improvement of infrastructure, he said the plan should include a goal of where the U.S. will be in 10 years.
“Congress is dropping the ball,” he said, “(by) giving away too much to the executive branch.”
Koble advocates good government for political parties — not passing bills after midnight, passing bills that haven’t been read and passing budgets that don’t “force us to live within our means.”
Koble is a firm believer in the Second Amendment.
“I grew up in a gun culture, I’ve owned a gun all of my life, I still own a gun,” said Koble, who grew up in a farm in North Dakota and understands rural America.
Koble said he doesn’t want to take any person’s guns away just like he doesn’t want his guns taken. He is advocating gun safety, which mean he’s against assault weapons, bump stocks and silencers.
“You don’t need an assault weapon to bag a deer,” he said, emphasizing he’s for gun safety, not gun control. “I respect people who want to keep guns.”
Koble said public land in Nevada should remain public. He opposes large-scale transfer of land to private interests or states but said he’s not opposed to small-scale transfers such as for the expansion of a runway. He questions why people would like to see a transfer of public lands to states, such as Nevada, that can’t adequately fund education; however, Koble said he would like agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management to work better with local government.
Wild horse and cattle grazing is another conversation Koble said needs to occur. Sink the passage of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act, he said advances in technology and rangeland management have occurred.
“I would like to see all the stakeholders get in the same room and hold a discussion about it,” he said of the 47-year-old act.
Koble said the government needs to be more flexible. While he worked for the USDA, he said at time the federal government showed its inflexibility. For example, he said programs for the Midwest don’t fit well in the West for public lands or federal agencies need to understand western issues better when it comes to farmers, ranchers and the American Indians.
Although he doesn’t favor moving the Department of Interior or BLM headquarters to the West, he does favor relocating key departments to serve this part of the country better. Koble said he pitched a similar idea with the USDA.
“I don’t think it can hurt,” he said, adding relocated staffs would understand the West better. “Everything changes when you cross the Mississippi (River),” he said.
Koble said he’s pro military and pro veterans. He’s familiar with the range modernization proposal for Naval Air Station Fallon, and when he served with the USDA, concerns arose for ranching and mining. The Department of Defense wants to withdraw land that would triple the Navy training range. Koble said he’s waiting to see what happens with any decision. Koble said NAS Fallon has played a pivotal role in the local economy, and Nevada shows its support as a patriotic state.
Koble said he’s grateful for the veterans and their service.
“They are the true heroes of our country,” he said.
Koble said most veterans with whom he’s met said they are fairly happy with the services provided by the Veterans Administration. He said the VA currently has 30,000 vacancies nationwide and said once the vacancies are filled, then the quality of service would improve even greater.
Another area of concern is the aging population. Not only do more veterans need care, but he also said more health providers are retiring, thus causing a void. Koble said most vets have told him they don’t want to see the VA privatized.
“People who work for VA believe in the mission and believe in their constituents,” he said.
Koble said the federal government should continue Payment in Lieu of Taxes money to the states. Public agencies need compensation for the services they provide to government employees or dependents such as education. Koble said he’s not in favor of a nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain.