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Where the Candidates Stand on Agriculture

October 4, 2012
By: Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy and Washington Editor

Biofuels, regs and trade in the presidential election

Amid the struggling economy and stubborn unemployment rate, most of the election debate stems around the budget deficit and the debt situation. Nevertheless, agriculture fits into the bigger picture and the presidential face-off between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The added dynamics of a farm bill in flux and the most severe drought in decades have rural voters keeping a watchful eye on the campaigns.

Farm policy. President Obama and his team have continued to push for lawmakers to wrap up the farm bill, primarily to restart disaster programs that would help livestock producers.

When it comes to a safety net, the Democratic party’s platform supports "increased availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss."

Due to weather and market volatility, Romney and his fellow Republicans believe farm programs should be "as cost-effective as they are functional, offering risk management tools that improve producers’ ability to operate when times are tough. Programs like the direct payment program should end in favor of those, like crop insurance, that help manage risk and are counter-cyclical in nature."

p12 where the candidates stand on ag chart

Biofuels. In light of the drought and high crop prices, several U.S. governors have requested a waiver of ethanol mandates under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Obama and his administration will "stay committed to biofuels because the RFS has increased the amount of biofuels consumption," said former Iowa Agriculture Commissioner Patty Judge, who represented the administration at the Presidential Forum on Agriculture, sponsored by the Farm Foundation.

Romney and the Republican party also support the RFS mandate, according to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). "There needs to be new ways to use that product [ethanol] and take the next steps in terms of science and in terms of using other things to produce ethanol other than corn," he added.

Regulations. The Democratic National Committee says the Obama administration is focused on a "simpler, smarter and more cost-effective approach to regulation, rather than one riddled with special rules written by lobbyists. Efficient and effective regulations enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink and our air is safe to breathe."

The committee also claims that the directive by President Obama to have all agencies review and streamline outdated regulations will save at least $10 billion over five years and eliminate tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens.

As for Romney’s regulation agenda, Johanns said the Republican presidential candidate would practice a "time-out" on new regulations. Regulations are "a wet blanket over the economy," Johanns noted. "There needs to be a thoughtful approach on what we are doing. We need to do the right cost-benefit analysis" on the impact of regulations, he said.

The Republican National Committee’s reply to the Democratic stance is that regulations "must be drafted and implemented to balance legitimate public safety or consumer protection goals and job creation. Constructive regulation should be a helpful guide, not a punitive threat. Worst of all, overregulation is a stealth tax on everyone as the costs of compliance with the whims of federal agencies are passed along to the consumers at the cost of $1.75 trillion a year."

Johanns argued that the administration is out of touch with reality, citing the now-tabled child labor laws for farms and claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to regulate farm dust and ran surveillance flights over Nebraska feedlots.

Johanns added that there are "a pile" of regulations that the administration will not release until a second term. "When the election occurs, hold onto your hat," he warned.

Judge disputed Johanns’ assertions. "I don’t believe [the Democrats] are out there with fistfuls of regulations just waiting to release them," she countered. "Let’s put the farm dust issue to rest. There are no pending regs on dust. Period."

Judge continued, "Do we need to be careful? Absolutely. If things are going too far, we should call [the administration] on it. We need a healthy economy that is not burdened with regulations."

Both parties agree that farmers and ranchers, for the most part, are good stewards of the land and don’t need new regulations to force the matter.

Trade. The topic of trade often comes up in Washington and, as a result, agriculture’s positive contribution to the trade picture. On a value basis, more ag products are sold overseas than are brought into the country.

"I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers," claimed Obama when accepting the Democratic nomination for President in Charlotte, N.C.

Romney pledges to "make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements, and when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences."

Turning the focus on agriculture, Judge noted that trade issues at times continue to be "vexing," especially when countries throw up barriers to U.S. ag goods that aren’t based on science. She said the administration will continue to work with the private sector, USDA, lawmakers and others to solve trade issues.

As president, Romney would involve the World Trade Organization (WTO), Johanns said. "You have to get them involved in browbeating, doing whatever is necessary to get the members of the WTO—which are 156 countries, the major trading countries—to recognize that we have to work with each other on principles and standards that are fair to each side. You can’t say to the United States, ‘We want to sell you our pork, but we don’t want to buy your beef.’ That just doesn’t work."

Johanns said Romney would pursue bilateral trade deals. "Our farmers and ranchers can compete with anybody in the world if we get a level playing field," he said. He also mentioned that Romney would seek trade promotion authority from Congress, which would allow the administration to negotiate trade deals and bring them back to Congress for an up-or-down vote.


Key Swing States

While the candidates’ views on agricultural policy aren’t as contrary as they are in other sectors,
agriculture will still play a part in the outcome of the presidential election. For Romney to win,
political watchers predict he has to take Florida, Ohio and Virginia. For Obama to stay in the White House, he has to win Florida, Ohio or Virginia and either New Hampshire, Iowa or Colorado. The addition of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as Romney’s running mate inserts Wisconsin into the battleground states.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - October 2012

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COMMENTS (8 Comments)

tony newbill - powell butte , OR
The way a President Romney can manage the Inflation that’s headed our way in the USA and world regardless of what we do as a People of Earth , the rise in demand will cripple the Centralized processing and distribution system the International economy runs on today because it cannot pass on the inflation costs coming now from a system that’s unable to find enough cheaper labor and automation to lower handling costs so these costs are now inflating with the rise in world labors rise in quality of life , So what we need is a More Locally Produced , Processed and Distributed supply system to go with the Current system , and this overall approach Mitt Romney can enable the Small Business sector to be competitive and stabilize the inflation with an overall expansion in supply economically .
let the Derivatives Markets Freely redirect that Investment money into where the Inflation is showing a potential spiking of price to stabilize and control it without interruptions in CPI data because Food and Energy stocks are NOT calculated in CPI data to being in with as a way to counter the Control Obama has right now over setting monetary policy . This can be what breaks the Dam Obama has built with regulation because its Internationally a Way around Obama and the Globalists Grip over Congress and their ability to Lead on Fiscal direction , because if the International Derivatives Markets start to Redirect leveraged positions into These Alternative productions to expand the food and energy supply it will then force Congress to want to take advantage and compete for this Market Greed driving them because they will want to have as much of this Production here in the USA and Mitt Romney can say he will be able to enable the Business sector to take advantage of this Trend with his economic and Tax code policies !!! We can expand the Food Basket with Infinity and the energy supply too, but it takes a Leader that is not Held back by a Globalist Ideology like Obama has been . Here are ways that can expand the Food and Energy supply and do it in alternative ways that everyone can realize is a sustainable path forward by transforming more Production , Processing and Distribution back to a more Locally driven small business sector ,with substance and meaning , something President Obama cannot deliver because of his principle being controlled from the teleprompter he reads from by the Globalists he associates his ideology with regarding Central Government theology .
I am implementing this Feed process on my ranch here in Powell Butte Oregon to feed and produce natural beef as a Locally grown and distributed resource expanding supply beyond the traditional way of food production . I think this will be how we managed Unsustainable inflation that’s coming soon because the Processes we have now that are centrally located are not going to be able to pass along these inflation costs on a Tapped out Consumer because incomes are not rising most are living off Government . , , . This kind of Alternative production means would enable the Local communities to be more Involved in the production of food and energy industries and by creating the resources locally this would lower the Overall cost on these products that Now from a Centralized Processing and distribution system cannot pass the Inflation costs on producing and distributing because peoples incomes are not rising . If Investments were allowed to come into these areas of production from the derivatives markets and these businesses be allowed to be traded in a ETF basket the ability to bundle small businesses and invest in them as pools would be no different than how the Bundling of Mortgages was done , only this investment would be in areas that we need supply expansion in to curb the Food and energy inflation we see that will only get worse because traditional methods have reached a peak in production .
And here is a Great source of Bio Algae resource companies that the derivatives markets can redirect investments into, this is the fuel of the future because its By Product production of Pulp high in Proteins and Fiber Opens the door to endless product use , think about its potential and watch the derivatives markets go wild here !!!!!

9:16 AM Oct 20th
tony newbill - powell butte , OR
President Obama should be setting Policy in Motion that Enables a Private Sector Business sector that can supply this demand with the capitalist financial system that first allocates Bonds to be auctioned that pay fixed Income Market investors to invest and hold long term positions that then can be the financial means to fund enterprise to innovate and build through private capital and asset creation the production and expansion of necessary means to meet this demand and we need this to be happening Yesterday , where has President Obama been on this ?

U.S. Government Warns: High Food Prices To Hit Americans Hard
Given the Policies that the President favor regarding United Nations Sustainable development IMO he is not Interested in allowing the private sector a Chance to meet this demand and would rather head the USA into this Direction ???
9:09 AM Oct 20th
PullMyFinger - Chappell, NE
I'm not gay so I don't care what Johanns has to say. Romney wants a strong military but if we all paid less than 14% taxes we couldn't give every service man a sling shot.
9:04 AM Oct 5th
Drake78 - Cherokee, IA
Sen. Johanns holds up the spectre of EPA flights over livestock operations as an example of the administration being out of touch, when he knows that they actually began under the Bush administration. We don't need false outrage senator.
8:42 AM Oct 5th
keith - lynn center, IL
Romney talks about cutting tax exemptions and deductions to increase the dollars raised by the government. What is he saying? Is he targeting large businesses, small businesses, personal income taxes? We have a midsize farm (small business) and 3 kids, should I be worried?
5:26 PM Oct 4th
Edgar - Schuylerville, NY
Sen. Johanns' comment that the Obama Administration has "a pile of regulations" just waithing to be released after the election is typical of some politicians during campaigns. The Senator is certainly not inexperienced when it comes to alleged rumors that emerge from the bowels of the bureraucracy. Having served as USDA Secretary, he should know better that advancing such hollow charges. Farmers and ranchers deserve better than that from him!
4:25 PM Oct 4th
Edgar - Schuylerville, NY
Sen. Johanns' comment that the Obama Administration has "a pile of regulations" just waithing to be released after the election is typical of some politicians during campaigns. The Senator is certainly not inexperienced when it comes to alleged rumors that emerge from the bowels of the bureraucracy. Having served as USDA Secretary, he should know better that advancing such hollow charges. Farmers and ranchers deserve better than that from him!
4:25 PM Oct 4th
86chevyguy - MD
i think that we need to have straight facts from both candidates if they fully support agriculture. It is very important, and as long as they actually do what they say they will, may the best man for America win
4:03 PM Oct 4th



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