A week from today, we will know who will occupy the White House for the next 4 years. What impact will that have on agriculture? Which candidate is best for agriculture depends on who you ask. Sec of Ag Tom Vilsack said President Obama has served the interests of farmers well and is proud of the administration’s record over the past 4 years, “We have had the best 4 years of agricultural exports in the history of the US. We set a record last year and expect to set one again next year.” Vilsack cited the signing of key free trade agreements and progress on opening trade with Russia, Mexico, and Asia. Vilsack said the President would continue to aggressively promote trade if re-elected.
Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Ag and co-chair of the Farmers for Romney committee, says the Obama record on trade is dismal. He charged that the President weakened some of the ag provisions of the recently enacted Columbia FTA in favor of manufacturing advantages. He also says a Romney administration will not target agriculture with excessive regulations. He said under a Romney administration, “There will be regulations, but they will be fully vetted and tested and will not have the unintended consequences that we constantly see in regulations.” Northey says there is enough uncertainty and unpredictability in agriculture and the last thing farmers need are regulations that aren’t thought out, aren’t tested, and have unintended consequences. Northey says Romney would take a fresh look to see if there are regulations from which we need to back away. He adds that a Romney Administration will be more sensitive to the negative impacts regulations can have.
Vilsack says USDA strives to communicate with other agencies and fosters communication between agencies like the EPA and farmers. He says that will continue as long as he is Secretary. Vilsack says the Rural Council he chairs is designed to coordinate and integrate agency efforts. As for the claims the Obama Administration is over-regulating, Vilsack believes the President has taken heat for things that were never in the plan.
Both men agree that estate taxes must be modified to not impact family farms. Vilsack says the President doesn’t support elimination of the tax, but does think something needs to be done to eliminate the uncertainty for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Both feel addressing the deficit is vital although they differ vastly on how to achieve that reduction.
Sec Vilsack says a vote for the President will mean he will likely continue as Secretary of Agriculture, “I believe the President deserves another opportunity to continue his work and, if I can be of a help to him in any capacity, I will.” Northey says a vote for Governor Romney is a vote for change, “A Romney administration will be about empowering opportunity for people. I believe Governor Romney is the right man for the right time and the contrast cannot be clearer.” Make your opinion count by voting next Tuesday.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/10/candidatewrap.mp3|titles=Which Candidate is Better for Agriculture]