Blue Bunny Ice Cream Benefited From Government Subsidies While Funding Campaigns Calling For Smaller Government
"Blue Bunny Ice Cream Benefited From Government Subsidies While Funding Campaigns Calling For Smaller Government"
Vow 13 of the FAMiLY LEADER’s anti-gay marriage fidelity pledge asks candidates to commit to “downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA’s $14.3 trillion public debt.” The request is ironic given the GOP’s role in contributing to the nation’s deficit throughout the Bush administration and the LEADER’s own reliance on more than $3 million in government funds. As the Associated Press reported in May, the group, which is headed by three-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, “received more than half of its funding from federal grants over a five-year period when it operated under a different structure as The Iowa Family Policy Center” and was “among those that benefited from former President George Bush’s faith-based initiative.”
A closer look at Vander Plaats’ chief financial backers — the Wells Family who owns and operates Wells Dairy and sells its products under Blue Bunny Ice Cream label — reveals that they too have profited from some of the same government funding they paid Vander Plaats and the LEADER $456,000 to oppose.
In 2004, Wells Dairy received a total of $15,718,550 in government loans, grants, infrastructure bonds and tax credits, and promised to construct a new corporate headquarters in Iowa, preserve existing jobs, and add another 129 jobs. Wells accepted the subsidies, built the headquarters, but did not expand employment. As a result, the company returned $1,251,414 of the $15,718,550 to Iowa taxpayers as part of an agreement. Below is a breakdown of the government assistance the company received:
$2,928,000: Iowa Values Fund forgivable loan
$200,000: Physical Infrastructure Assistance forgivable loan
$200,000: ARC forgivable loan
$4,790,550: New Jobs and Income Program tax credit assistance
$250,000: from Le Mars
$250,000: from Plymouth County
$100,000: from Le Mars Business Initiative Corp.
$7,000,000: Bonds issued by Plymouth County or Le Mars to finance construction of the facility/roads
Ironically, candidates from both parties have criticized the Iowa Values Fund, characterizing the program as “corporate welfare.” Last year, Vander Plaats himself — then a gubernatorial candidate — said the fund was a “quick fix” but “not leadership.”
During a recent appearance at the Press Club in Washington, DC, Vander Plaats blamed the nation’s economic troubles on same-sex marriage, saying, “When you leave the fundamental core values issues, it will only translate into poor economic policy. And that’s what we’re seeing today.”