via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Little clout to alter farm, energy policy
other than budget cuts ahead
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction
or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
I am frequently asked by some U.S. ag industry
sectors, including farmers and ranchers, if they should be worried about
some of the farm and energy-related (ethanol) policy positions of GOP
presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.). Many of these questioners
say they want to or will vote for McCain, but ask what would be the impact
on U.S. farm and energy policy should he confound the current polls and
win the presidency.
My comments: Other than
coming budget cuts in many programs ahead due to the bulging federal
budget deficit, I see very little impact McCain would have on altering
U.S. farm and ethanol-based energy policy. Why? McCain would face a more
robust Democratically controlled House and Senate, and thus would not
be able to get controversial farm and energy-related policy changes
through a very wary Congress. Besides, current farm policy has substantial
bipartisan support in Congress, and that will likely grow with the coming
Nov. 4 elections.
Another reason: McCain would not focus on agriculture
should he become president. He (or Illinois Democrat Barack Obama should
he win the White House slot) would have far more important issues to
Players still important.
Despite the virtual hands-off approach to new policy, other than budget-cutting
forces, the officials McCain or Obama would put within USDA and other
farm policy-impacting agencies and departments will be important.
Monitor NFU briefing this morning. On that front,
this morning one of the possible Obama picks for USDA Secretary, National
Farmers Union (NFU) President Tom Buis, will host a conference call
for members of the media to discuss “several issues on the minds
of rural America.” Note the issues Buis addresses because whether
or not he would be the Ag Secretary under any Obama administration,
his and NFU's clout would be significant.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.