Last week the Iowa Corn Growers Association in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association released the Corn Caucus Project's "Presidential Report Card," a reference guide to presidential candidates' positions on agricultural policy.
Newt Gingrich earned straight A's on agriculture, energy, trade and other policies. Rick Santorum got an A-minus and President Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney got B's. Ron Paul and Herman Cain got D's from the Corn Growers, who based their grades on surveys submitted by candidates and also on media reports of candidates' quotes and comments on various issues. Michele Bachmann earned a D-plus.
"This is a tool for farmers and voters, not an endorsement," says Kevin Ross, a farmer from Minden in western Iowa, who currently serves as ICGA president. "The Corn Caucus Project is an initiative to help Iowa's corn growers compare the candidates on agricultural issues. We do not make any recommendations or endorsements, we just let the candidates speak for themselves."
How corn caucus project's "Presidential Report Card" rates candidates
The Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card provides information on the eight major candidates' responses to questions on legislative priorities for corn. Topics on the survey included: ethanol, farm programs, conservation programs, Environmental Protection Agency regulations, free trade agreements, agricultural trade programs and transportation issues.
Based on survey responses submitted by presidential candidates, media and official records, each candidate was scored and graded. If a candidate failed to complete the survey, the committee used published statements, official records or information from the candidate's website to complete the voter guide. Answers to the survey and issue tracking are available online at www.iowacorn.org/corncaucus.
"If there is a question affecting the corn industry, we want every presidential candidate to know an Iowa corn grower who is ready and willing to provide answers and we want Iowans to know how the candidates stand on issues that are important to Iowa's corn growers," says Ross.
Surprising to corn growers that some of the candidates scored so low
Iowa Corn Growers Association policy adviser Mindy Larsen Poldberg says the candidates were not asked about farm subsidies made in the form of direct payments. "The Corn Growers Association is focused on insurance and revenue protection, not direct payments," she says. Ross says "It was somewhat surprising that a couple of the candidates scored so low, and we needed to know where we had problems."
The Corn Caucus Project works on two levels, surveying the candidates to provide better information to caucus goers and encouraging ICGA members to participate with campaigns to serve as a liaison and resource for the candidates and their staff. "Iowa is in a unique political position because of our state's first in the nation status in holding the presidential caucuses. This gives corn growers the opportunity to have real input in the development of the presidential candidates' positions on agricultural policy," says Ross.The Corn Caucus Presidential Report Card will be mailed to all ICGA members and is available online at www.iowacorn.org/corncaucus. Ross says ICGA would like to extend a special thank you to the National Corn Growers Association, and the Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and Kentucky Corn Growers Associations for making this project possible. ICGA is a membership organization, lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of it's over 6,700 members. For more information about ICGA and its programs, visit www.iowacorn.org.