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The Milk House: Ag and the elections No. 2

Ryan Dennis Published on 24 November 2015

The race for the presidency heats up with the primary season just around the corner and the general election only a year away. Lost among the debates, the negative ads and the relentless analysis by pundits is the fate of farming on voting day.

No longer being a hot-button issue, agriculture often gets pushed aside in national media attention, leaving it difficult to negotiate where exactly each candidate stands on the topic.

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In an attempt to provide a fair, non-biased look into where each candidate’s past and campaign interests intersect with farming, this column attempted to conduct objective research that included candidate websites, voting records and quotes from or regarding the contenders.

Last month we considered the three leading Democratic front-runners, and will now do the same for the five Republicans at the top of the national average polls at the date this column was written: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

As with the Democratic candidates, I’ve included the voting records of the last three major agricultural bills they voted on as found on Votesmart.org. Nonetheless, only Marco Rubio has a voting record, as Jeb Bush serves as governor and the other candidates have never been elected officials.

Donald Trump

From his website: There is nothing about agriculture on his presidential website.

Quotable: New York Times reporter: “Are you afraid he’s going to destroy this beautiful place?”

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Michael Forbes: “Of course he is. He destroys everything he touches.”

From MIRROR, 2009: Michael Forbes was a Scottish farmer that Trump tried to force off his land to build a golf resort. Note: While this seems like a pointed example to use, it is the only instance produced in an Internet search that shows Trump addressing farming.

According to Votesmart.org: No voting record available. 

Ben Carson

From his website: There is nothing about agriculture on his presidential website.

Quotable: “Ben Carson isn’t pandering to voters in Iowa, telling them Sunday that he would phase out agricultural subsidies if elected president. The Republican candidate, however, said that he would allow 10 years for the policy to take effect.”

—Washington Examiner, Aug. 16, 2015

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According to Votesmart.org: No voting record available.

Carly Fiorina

From her website: “The EPA has controlled the water in this state (California) for over a decade, and as a result the agriculture industry in California is in deep trouble … all these jobs can be destroyed at the altar of science, but this is not about the altar of science; it is about ideology.”

Video clip from Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox, August 2015

Quotable: “Fiorina made her final stop on Saturday morning in Des Moines at the Iowa Corn Growers Association’s policy conference – telling the nearly 250 corn growers that she supported allowing the Renewable Fuel Standard to expire in 2022, as current law states, if subsidies for fossil fuels also end.

(The Renewable Fuel Standard requires a certain amount a biofuel be blended into U.S. fuel supplies, guaranteeing ethanol access into the gas market – seen as a big boon to Iowa farmers.)”

—NBC News, Aug. 31, 2015 

According to Votesmart.org: No voting record available.

Marco Rubio

From his website: There is nothing about agriculture on his presidential website.

Quotable: “I think it’s important for us to open up free and fair trade with allies and partners around the world … But it has to be on terms that are fair to the American agriculture sector because, I can tell you, many of our agricultural products have to compete against other nations that heavily subsidize their industries and have zero environmental or labor regulations over their head compared to ours.”

—March 27th, 2015, FarmPolicy.com

According to Votesmart.org:

  • Feb. 4, 2014. Voted against 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, and 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. Voted against a bill that repeals direct payments to farmers and amends crop insurance programs, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). (Bill passed).

Jeb Bush

From his website: “We still have to reduce the regulations that choke so much of the U.S. economy, especially farms, factories and power plants.” 

Quotable: “Calling the Environmental Protection Agency ‘a pig in slop,’ Jeb Bush said, ‘We have to begin to rein in this top-down-driven regulatory system.’”

The Washington Post, March 7, 2015

According to Votesmart.org: No record available.  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.

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