Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday released his plan for agricultural policy, coinciding with a campaign stop in Iowa.
The Republican candidate from Massachusetts touted the plan as providing support for a "stronger middle class," citing improved energy independence and trade opportunities, tax reform and a new farm bill.
"[Romney] will respect the legitimate needs and concerns of farmers and ranchers, by ensuring that a strong farm bill is passed in timely fashion and by pursuing rational regulation that protects health, safety, and the environment without imposing unnecessary burdens," the plan says.
The campaign calls President Obama's current policies "out-of-touch" and "counterproductive." Romney's team also released a host of support statements from U.S. Senators and Representatives, including Sens. John Thune and Pat Roberts. A statement from U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., discredited President Obama's stance on rural American policies.
"I also know that with all of the worries that burden these Americans every day – from weather to pests – the last thing farmers and ranchers need is a manmade tax and regulatory disaster handed down from Washington," Lucas writes. "Over the last four years, President Obama's empty rhetoric and problematic policies have stifled America's agriculture sector, and the next four years are sure to be a disappointing repeat of the same failed policies."
Romney's plan focuses largely on regulation, energy and taxation. The candidate proposes a 20% income tax break, low capital gains rates and elimination of taxes on savings for the middle class and a permanent elimination of the debated estate tax.
A Romney energy plan includes a goal of energy independence by 2020 by improving development of existing resources and supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard. Romney's plan also indicated support for private-sector research "across the full spectrum" of energy-related technology.
Jim Nussle, President and CEO of Growth Energy, released a statement Tuesday in support of Romney's plan.
"This plan signals to investors and producers that America's commitment to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs that revitalize rural America remain a top priority for a candidate seeking the office of the Presidency," Nussle said. "By providing certainty, investors can continue to follow through on their research and development of cutting edge technology, producing fuels right here at home, strengthening our energy independence and ensuring that America's money is reinvested right here in the American economy."
Romney also plans to streamline regulations on the agriculture industry by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations proposed by federal agencies and forcing agencies to spend time reconsidering old policy before imposing new policies.
"From overzealous efforts to extend the Clean Water Act to rainwater in ditches, to duplicative rules for pesticides, to an insistence on the authority to regulate dust, to a proposal that would bar teenagers from working on their family farms, it has become impossible to believe that Washington understands or cares about the interests and concerns of rural America," Romney's plan says.