With the national spotlight on the race for the White House, the American Soybean Association (ASA) reached out to President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for each candidate’s points of view on issues critical to soybean farmers.
President Obama and Governor Romney offered their positions on the farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure.
“Agriculture is a powerful and positive segment of the American economy, and the financial health of our nation’s farms needs to be among the top priorities in the larger political dialogue,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb.
“The responses offered by President Obama and Governor Romney provide a window into how each candidate would approach soybean industry issues over the next four years. We are grateful to President Obama and Governor Romney for their feedback on these issues, and we know the input will help soybean farmers make the most informed choice possible as they head to the polls next month.”
Both candidates expressed a desire to pass a comprehensive farm bill as quickly as possible.
(To see how the two candidates outlined their positions on farm issues to the American Farm Bureau Federation, click here).
President Obama pointed to importance of risk management and disaster assistance in the farm bill, saying, “we need a strong farm safety net for all of America’s farmers. 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 has also 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.”
Wants to maintain competitiveness
Governor Romney emphasized the need to maintain the competitiveness of the American farmer, saying, “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 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.”
On biotechnology, President Obama said, “advances in biotechnology have strengthened agriculture, one of the country’s largest industries. Today, an amazing variety of innovative products are being made from soybeans that would have been unimaginable just a generation ago. And the key to building upon America’s agriculture exports of more than $137 billion lies in developing even more innovative products.
“That is why my administration is working to streamline the regulatory process, reducing costs and reducing the time for review for new inventions, while still ensuring that crops are fully reviewed to ensure health and environmental safety.”
Governor Romney expressed his opposition to the estate tax, saying, “at the very heart of U.S. agriculture is the family farm. Traveling across the heartland of America and visiting with farm families, I have been continuously impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit and drive to be successful.
“It is my pledge to rural America that the federal government will not force our farmers and ranchers to sell their operations or part of their operations simply to pay death taxes as their operations pass from one generation to next.
“For this reason, I fully support eliminating the death tax. Family farms and ranches built on strong rural values and work ethic should not be penalized through the heavy hand of government. Family farms are and need to continue to be the backbone of rural America.”