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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.

101912ObamaRomney

Obama

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.

Taxes

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.

First, we must extend the middle class tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans making less than $250,000 for another year. In fact, my proposal extends tax cuts for 97 percent of all small business owners in America.

But at the same time, we need to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share. I remain opposed to the extension of tax cuts for those with household income is above $250,000 and support the return of the estate tax exemption and rates to 2009 levels. These policies were unfair and unaffordable when they were passed, and they remain so today.

Governor Romney would take the opposite approach - his tax plan would require an average tax increase of $2,000 on middle class families with kids, to pay for a new round of tax cuts for multi-millionaires, who would get an average break of $250,000.

My proposal would return the top tax rate on estates to 45 percent and reinstate the $7 million per-couple estate tax exemption, which exempts all but the wealthiest 3 in 1,000 decedents from the tax, but still helps us reduce the deficit. Independent experts estimate that under this plan, only 60 small farm and business estates in the entire country would owe any estate tax in 2013.

I’d also return capital gains taxes to the rates they were when Bill Clinton was president. But I’m calling for the permanent elimination of capital gains taxes on key small business investments.

 

Romney

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 support passage of a strong farm bill that provides the appropriate risk management tools that will work for farmers and ranchers throughout the country. In the near term, my immediate priority should be given to enacting disaster relief for those not traditionally covered by crop insurance as this year’s drought has worsened. My running mate, Paul Ryan, voted for this relief in the House. Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Senate went home for August break without enacting them.

On the broader question of farm programs, we must be cognizant that our agricultural producers are competing with other nations around the world. Other nations subsidize their farmers, so we must be careful not to unilaterally change our policies in a way that would disadvantage agriculture here in our country.

In addition, we want to make sure that we don’t ever find ourselves in a circumstance where we depend on foreign nations for our food the way we do with energy. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest is achieve a level playing field on which American farmers can compete.

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?

Getting reckless government spending under control is one of my top priorities. I’ll implement a basic test that looks at every program and asks whether it is so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it.

We’ll work to empower states by sending programs that are currently controlled by the federal government back to the state-level where local solutions can be tailored to meet local needs.

And lastly, we will reduce the size of the federal government to make sure it’s more efficient and productive.

Taxes

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?

We must pass fundamental tax reform that lowers tax rates, broadens the base, achieves revenue neutrality, and maintains the progressivity of the tax code. This will help jumpstart an economic recovery that will help create 12 million jobs in my first term in office.

Regarding the estate tax and capital gains taxes, we must work to help all working families, including farmers and ranchers, keep more of what they earn. As president, I will eliminate the estate tax, helping keep family farms and ranches intact when businesses pass on from one generation to the next.

I will also maintain the current 15% capital gains rate for wealthier Americans, while totally eliminating capital gains, dividend, and interest taxes for those who earn less than $200,000 per year. This will help middle-class families save tax free for long term costs like college tuition and retirement, and to generally enjoy the freedom that accompanies financial security.

 

Read their complete answers including commentary on energy, labor and trade on the AFB web site.

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COMMENTS (8 Comments)

Farmer Dustin - Balfour, ND
I'm a small farmer in ND. Talking to my tax guy the max amount of deductions for the farm in 2013 is going to be $25,000. I did not forget a zero. So knowing how expensive fertilizer, fuel, seed and equipment. Obama says he's going to raise taxes on those making $250,000 or more but this is also going to make most small farmers also go up another tax bracket. This is going to have a huge impact on every Farmer out there. I'm not sure knowing that how any farmer could vote for Obama
9:11 AM Oct 25th
 
Bryan Coulter - SLC, UT
A vote for Obama is a vote to destroy your way of life in America. I know Romney. He will listen and take action that is appropriate for the American Farmers. How can you sit by and have the current president say that your kids can't help on the farm anymore driving equipment. The regulations for your own kid to sell a chicken egg to a neighbor is rediculous with this administration. The regulations of Obama are putting small and large producers out of business. Don't find an endangered plant or animal on your farm. If you look hard and long enough you have either had a native amerian human, plant or animal that needs to be saved. You will not own or be able to work your land at that point. We have many producers facing some serious concerns with restrictions being put on them in the name of endangered plants and animals. We have seen huge tracks of land where the current administration wants to take the land out of use for our farming and cattle operations. I see nothing but wanting to put producers out of business and destroy American agriculture. This has to stop and stop now before we have no rights left in this country. Vote Romney !!!!!!!!!!!!
6:35 PM Oct 22nd
 
Bryan Coulter - SLC, UT
A vote for Obama is a vote to destroy your way of life in America. I know Romney. He will listen and take action that is appropriate for the American Farmers. How can you sit by and have the current president say that your kids can't help on the farm anymore driving equipment. The regulations for your own kid to sell a chicken egg to a neighbor is rediculous with this administration. The regulations of Obama are putting small and large producers out of business. Don't find an endangered plant or animal on your farm. If you look hard and long enough you have either had a native amerian human, plant or animal that needs to be saved. You will not own or be able to work your land at that point. We have many producers facing some serious concerns with restrictions being put on them in the name of endangered plants and animals. We have seen huge tracks of land where the current administration wants to take the land out of use for our farming and cattle operations. I see nothing but wanting to put producers out of business and destroy American agriculture. This has to stop and stop now before we have no rights left in this country. Vote Romney !!!!!!!!!!!!
6:35 PM Oct 22nd
 
PullMyFinger - Chappell, NE
No matter how large a farmer you think you are, you are nothing but a servant in the eyes of Romney and will be kidding yourself if you think he will help either you or this country. He has even gone on the record saying he delights in firing those who serve him. So go ahead, kid yourself, waste your time - vote for the loser. Sounds like it might be time for you to stop sucking up the crap on Faux News. Radical Muslims?? Radical Republicans are the only threat to this country, just re-read your hog waller.
2:24 PM Oct 20th
 
- Ipswich, SD
If%252520you%252520don't%252520care%252520about%252520the%252520deficit,%252520if%252520you%252520do​n't%252520care%252520that%252520our%252520country%252520is%252520rapidly%252520heading%252520toward%​252520socialism,%252520if%252520you%252520don't%252520care%252520about%252520the%252520hidden%252520​taxes%252520and%252520what's%252520in%252520Obamacare,%252520if%252520you%252520don't%252520care%252​520if%252520radical%252520muslims%252520are%252520getting%252520a%252520hold%252520in%252520America,​%252520if%252520you%252520don't%252520care%252520that%252520the%252520president%252520has%252520zero​%252520business%252520experience,%252520and%252520if%252520you%252520don't%252520mind%252520sharing%​252520what%252520you%252520have%252520worked%252520for%252520with%252520someone%252520who%252520hasn​'t%252520done%252520squat,%252520go%252520ahead%252520and%252520vote%252520for%252520Obama.%252520Yo​u%252520are%252520right,%252520you%252520know%252520what%252520he%252520believes%252520and%252520whe​re%252520he%252520is%252520headed%252520and%252520you%252520say%252520you%252520cannot%252520trust%2​52520Mr.%252520Romney?%252520LoL!%252520%252520We%252520are%252520large%252520farmers%252520in%25252​0SD%252520and%252520believe%252520me,%252520we%252520are%252520afraid!%252520​
9:48 AM Oct 20th
 
- Ipswich, SD
If%20you%20don't%20care%20about%20the%20deficit,%20if%20you%20don't%20care%20that%20our%20country%20​is%20rapidly%20heading%20toward%20socialism,%20if%20you%20don't%20care%20about%20the%20hidden%20taxe​s%20and%20what's%20in%20Obamacare,%20if%20you%20don't%20care%20if%20radical%20muslims%20are%20gettin​g%20a%20hold%20in%20America,%20if%20you%20don't%20care%20that%20the%20president%20has%20zero%20busin​ess%20experience,%20and%20if%20you%20don't%20mind%20sharing%20what%20you%20have%20worked%20for%20wit​h%20someone%20who%20hasn't%20done%20squat,%20go%20ahead%20and%20vote%20for%20Obama.%20You%20are%20ri​ght,%20you%20know%20what%20he%20believes%20and%20where%20he%20is%20headed%20and%20you%20say%20you%20​cannot%20trust%20Mr.%20Romney?%20LoL!%20%20We%20are%20large%20farmers%20in%20SD%20and%20believe%20me​,%20we%20are%20afraid!%20​
9:48 AM Oct 20th
 
- Ipswich, SD
If you don't care about the deficit, if you don't care that our country is rapidly heading toward socialism, if you don't care about the hidden taxes and what's in Obamacare, if you don't care if radical muslims are getting a hold in America, if you don't care that the president has zero business experience, and if you don't mind sharing what you have worked for with someone who hasn't done squat, go ahead and vote for Obama. You are right, you know what he believes and where he is headed and you say you cannot trust Mr. Romney? LoL! We are large farmers in SD and believe me, we are afraid!
9:48 AM Oct 20th
 
Jon - , MN
My dad and I are small farmers in MO. Unless you are above the $500,000 tax bracket my calculations indicate we are better off with President Obama. At least we know what he believes in and that he will try to do what he says. Unfortunately the goal of the congress for the past two years was to be against anything he proposed. It is not clear what Romney thinks; he seems to change his beliefs as needed to keep/attract votes. I just can not trust what he says.
7:57 PM Oct 19th
 



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