Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture should not have pressured 4-H to rescind a policy welcoming LGBTQ members into the international youth organization.

"Common sense tells me that that for 100 years … 4-H has been operating as a very competent organization and I don't know of any federal interference in the past," he said. "So why would you have it in this particular case?"

Acknowledging he wasn't aware of "the control that USDA has over the 4-H," he said he believes that the group "should be relatively free of government control."

4-H is a congressionally authorized youth program that is subsidizedthrough a combination of federal, state and local funds. Private donors work with state-level 4-H Foundation groups to support the program's more than 6 million members. 

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The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers the greater 4-H organization. However, local councils are supported more directly by the extension services of a network of public universities.

In Iowa, Iowa State University is 4-H's supporting partner. 

As reported by the Register, the decision to remove the LGBT draft policy at a national level stoked fear and confusion across the organization and eventually led to the firing of John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas, the first Latino statewide leader in 4-H history.

The decision is the most recent effort of the Trump administration to roll back federal protections covering gender identity — or the deeply held sense of who one is that may differ from the sex organs with which one is born.

MORE: Read the Register's full investigation

What was your experience in 4-H? Email Courtney Crowder at

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