Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

The Milk House: Ag and the elections - Part 1

Ryan Dennis Published on 06 November 2015

American politics is a strange animal. In few other counties are there only two parties and is so much money spent on campaigning.

Candidates are steeped more in party rhetoric than individual belief, and those parties spend more time reacting to each other than addressing issues with logic or genuine sincerity. Media has little interest in providing accurate coverage but instead pushes the agenda of one side or the other.

advertisement

advertisement

For those with an interest in agriculture, it becomes even more disillusioning. With only 2 percent of the population involved with farming, issues of concern do not receive any national attention during the stumping process, nor are candidates likely to have expressed very definite views in their past. One has to dig deep to find where their careers may have intersected with the agricultural sector.

In an effort to break the mold of both this column, its satire and the nature of political reporting, what follows is an honest attempt to offer a brief and objective glimpse into major candidates’ views on agriculture. As a disclaimer, let me admit that there very well may have been important points I have missed or that were not included, as well as other incidences that may have occurred by the time this piece has gone to print.

This column will look at the major Democratic candidates, and the following column the Republicans. It should also be noted that at the time of this submission, Joe Biden has not officially decided if he will run, but if he does polls suggest that he would be a major candidate. Also, from Votesmart.org, I’ve included the last three major agricultural bills each candidate has voted on, although each one has a longer voting history and at times did not vote.

Hillary Clinton

From her website: “Hillary will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, invest in expanding local food markets and regional food systems, and provide a focused safety net to assist family operations that truly need support during challenging times.”

Quotable: “In a recent speech before the world’s largest biotechnology meeting in San Diego, Clinton – who commands speaking fees of about $225,000 per speech – was enthusiastic in her support for the use of GMOs in farming and agriculture in general.”

advertisement

—Food Democracy Now on July 9, 2014

“Growing together was a central theme: She said that creating more clean energy would be a boon to agriculture, that expanded broadband and Internet access would help rural communities, that comprehensive immigration reform would help stabilize the agricultural workforce, and that a growing agricultural sector would help combat the drug dependency and addition plaguing the country.”

—New York Times, Aug. 26, 2015

According to Votesmart.org:

  • May 22, 2008 – Voted to override a veto on a bill that increases spending on certain forms of agricultural assistance, extends selected agricultural assistance programs until 2012, provides funding for the purchase of certain foods for domestic nutrition programs, lowers income tax credits for ethanol producers and makes other agriculture-related changes. This bill includes supporting the price of dairy products by requiring the secretary of agriculture to buy cheddar cheese, butter and nonfat dry milk made from milk produced in the U.S. (Sec. 1501). (Override successful).
  • Dec. 13, 2007 – Voted to adopt an amendment that limits the amount of subsidies a married couple may receive to $250,000 and requires that any individual or entity receiving subsidies must be actively involved in a farming operation to receive subsidies. (Amendment rejected).
  • Nov. 3, 2005 – Voted to adopt a conference report that appropriates funds for agriculture, rural development, FDA, nutrition programs and related agencies, including Appropriates $1.27 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, Appropriates $1.03 billion for the Farm Service Agency. (Bill accepted).

Bernie Sanders

According to his website (Note: Nothing about agriculture could be found on his presidential website, only on his senatorial website): “Sen. Sanders believes that small family farms are fundamentally important for Vermont and America as a whole. In his years representing the Green Mountain State, Sen. Sanders has worked to promote Vermont’s dairy industry, sustainable and organic farming and good nutrition for every American.”

Quotable: “We must maintain vigorous decentralized agriculture based on the family farm. This week I have introduced HR 3370, a two-tier supply management program which will provide dairy farmers with a fair price for their product and at the same time allow the government to purchase inexpensive dairy products to be used in our national nutritional program. In my view, there is no surplus in this country when we have 5 million children who are hungry.”

advertisement

—October 28, 1993, addressing the House

According to Votesmart.org:

  • Feb. 4, 2014 – Voted to adopt a conference report that amends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, repeals direct payments to farmers, amends crop insurance programs and amends dairy programs, which included repealing the Dairy Product Price Support Program, Dairy Export Incentive Program, Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission and Milk Income Loss Contract Program (Secs. 1421-1423, & 1427). (Bill passed).
  • May 23, 2013 – Voted to adopt an amendment to S 954 that limits the amount of a premium subsidy when provided by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to a farmer with a gross annual income of more than $750,000, beginning with the 2014 reinsurance year. (Bill passed).
  • June 21, 2012 (Key vote) – Voted to pass a bill that repeals direct payments to farmers and amends crop insurance programs, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (Bill passed).

Joe Biden

According to his website: “Sen. Biden supported the farm bill and believes that it is a responsible compromise. It is not perfect, but it was the product of lengthy negotiations and passage was essential to our farm economy. For Delaware and the rest of the nation, this bill contains funding and programs that are critical to the future of the family farmer, stewardship of our environment and meeting nutritional needs at a time when food prices are rising.”

—Now-defunct senatorial website, retrieved Sept. 8, 2008)

According to Votesmart.org:

  • June 18, 2008 – Voted to override a veto on a bill that increases spending on certain forms of agricultural assistance, extends selected agricultural assistance programs until 2012, provides funding for the purchase of certain foods for domestic nutrition programs, lowers income tax credits for ethanol producers and makes other agriculture-related changes. (Override successful).
  • Dec. 13, 2007 – Voted to adopt an amendment that limits the amount of subsidies a married couple may receive to $250,000 and requires that any individual or entity receiving subsidies must be actively involved in a farming operation to receive subsidies. (Amendment rejected).
  • June 15, 2006 – Voted to adopt a conference report that appropriates $95.05 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for military operations, hurricane relief and recovery efforts, among other purposes, including directs the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide $332.4 million for agriculture, farming and environmental assistance. (Bill passed).  PD

Ryan Dennis is the son of a dairy farmer from western New York and a literary writer. The Dennis family dairies and maintains a 100-plus cow herd of Holsteins and Shorthorns.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS