Key Ag Issues Hinge on Fall Elections

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Michael Whitehead, analyst for Rabobank, explained that the future of ethanol lies in this fall's presidential elections. President George W. Bush, along with his administration, widely supports the ethanol industry. Bush's mention of America's "addiction to oil" in his State of the Union address several years ago put ethanol on the front pages.

Republican Sen. John McCain on the other hand has been a long-standing ethanol opponent. He's cosponsored legislation recently to freeze ethanol production at 9 billion gallons and joined other non-Midwest senators writing the EPA administrator in support of waiving the RFS for Texas.

McCain's agricultural policy states if elected president he "will ensure the EPA exercises its authority to waive this mandate or restructure it to ease the unintended consequences it will have on America's economy."

Illinois Democrat Sen. Barack Obama has been wishy-washy on his support for the industry with the media reports of ethanol's role in food prices.

However, his policy states he wants to invest more federal money into cellulosic ethanol. In addition, less than 10% of new ethanol production is from farmer-owned refineries. Obama states he wants to create a number of incentives for local communities to invest in biofuels refineries.

On the issues

McCain's record shows he's a strong supporter of free trade with his policy statements outlining continued support of working to achieve a multilateral world trade deal. Obama is less likely to support free trade agreements and has called into question the effectiveness of NAFTA

McCain stated he supports a 21st century "green revolution" and wants to dedicate a "robust scientific research agenda" to help grow better crops using less land, water and natural resources.

McCain said he believes that "rural America can best be served by lower taxes, strong markets, a vibrant economy, high tech connectivity, protection from natural disasters, better choice and availability of health insurance, better quality education, and retirement security."

Obama stated some of the main problems facing rural American include farm consolidation, CAFOs polluting the environment and rural communities left behind due to lack of infrastructure and remote distances.

As president, Obama said he will fight for tighter payment limits and a ban on packer ownership of livestock. Both McCain and Obama stated they support a payment limitation cap of $250,000 and want resources directed to those with the greatest need. McCain supports the risk management program and disaster aid.

Obama stated he would provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm. He also outlined ways to increase the quality of life in rural America with plans to improve infrastructure and encourage teachers and doctors to stay in rural regions.

Read Obama's full rural American plan by clicking here.

Read more about McCain's agricultural policy by clicking here.

 

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