Impact on Farm, Energy Policy if McCain Wins Presidency

October 16, 2008 07:00 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Little clout to alter farm, energy policy other than budget cuts ahead

NOTE: 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 address.

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.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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