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Presidential Candidates Talk Farm Issues

October 19, 2012

The following is how President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney answered a recent American Farm Bureau Federation questionnaire.

We included three key topics: farm policy, fiscal policy and taxes. Read their complete answers including commentary on energy, labor and trade on the AFB web site.



Farm Policy

A new farm bill will be enacted and implemented over the next four years during a time of significant evolution in agriculture. What policy and risk management tools do you propose to ensure that agriculture is a profitable, competitive and viable industry?

I understand the need for a strong farm safety net. That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss. My administration expanded farm credit to help more than 100,000 farmers struggling during the financial crisis to keep their family farms and provide for their families. And as farmers continue to go through hard times because of this drought, we are expanding access to low-interest loans, encouraging insurance companies to extend payment deadlines and opening new lands for livestock farmers to graze their herds.

And I know that any farm bill passed this year – and there needs to be a farm bill passed this year – needs to have adequate protections for America’s farmers. That’s why I have called for maintaining a strong crop insurance program and an extended disaster assistance program. We can reduce the deficit without sacrificing rural American economic growth, as the Romney-Ryan budget would do. Instead of making farmer pay more for crop insurance, we will do it by cutting subsidies to crop insurance companies and better targeting conservation funding.

Fiscal Policy

There are many factors involved in the economic downturn, but federal budget policy and the gridlock that is prohibiting restoration of sound fiscal policy are important factors. What would be your proposed foundation for reforming federal fiscal and budgeting policy?

We can’t grow our economy in the long run if we don’t start taking our fiscal and budgeting policy seriously. That’s why earlier this year, I put forward a detailed plan for over $4 trillion in deficit reduction – including $1 trillion in spending cuts enacted last year – that finds savings in every part in the budget, brings domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in about 50 years, reforms Medicare and Medicaid, and asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. The independent Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that my plan would reduce deficits over time, and stabilize the Federal debt.

We faced a more than $1 trillion deficit on the day I took office – overwhelmingly caused by a bad economy and the policies of the prior administration – including two tax cuts weighted towards the wealthy, two wars, and the Medicare drug benefit, none of which were paid for. Paul Ryan voted for these policies, and Mitt Romney supported them. Now, Romney and Ryan are proposing $5 trillion in tax cuts without describing how they’d pay for them, returning us to those same failed policies of the past.


What priorities will you set for reforming the tax code? How should tax reform deal with the estate tax and capital gains taxes, two critical concerns for farmers and ranchers?

The tax code has become increasingly complicated and unfair. While many tax incentives serve important purposes, taken together the tax expenditures in the law are inefficient, unfair, duplicative, or even unnecessary. That’s why I’m calling for comprehensive tax reform.

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