choice: John McCain
Capital Press 10/16/08
Americans, these are not the best of times. They are times fraught
with uncertainty, with a struggling economy and wars in Iraq and
These are times that beckon true leaders - like Franklin Roosevelt
and Ronald Reagan - who can assure the public and lead us to a
stronger, more vibrant nation tempered by the challenges of today.
American farmers and ranchers know about struggle. The high prices
of fuel, feed, financing and fertilizer combine with the roller
coaster prices of crops and livestock to squeeze every producer
In particular, Western farmers know that to succeed they must have
adequate water for crops, room to graze their livestock and ample
opportunity to harvest timber. They need a president who
understands the West and will listen to their concerns and who is
not afraid to do the right thing even if it means some political
Standing before voters in November's general election are two men,
John McCain and Barack Obama.
McCain, the Republican nominee, is a maverick who doesn't look for
his policies in polls or on a TelePrompTer, but who thinks for
himself instead of being part of the go-along-to-get-along crowd
in the Washington, D.C.
His decades of service in Congress representing Arizona amply
illustrate that he is able to reach across the aisle to solve
problems and work toward consensus.
Obama, the Democratic nominee, is an eager freshman senator from
Illinois. A good man and a great campaigner, he has captured the
hearts of a new generation with his calls for change.
Both candidates have health-care plans, foreign-policy plans,
plans for this and plans for that. When it comes to agriculture,
however, those plans can best be described as vague.
And there is more agreement between the two than disagreement.
One over-arching disagreement is over the 2008 Farm Bill. Neither
candidate voted on the legislation, though Obama, in response to
questions from the American Farm Bureau Federation, said he
supports it. He backs a "robust safety net that targets assistance
appropriately and provides farmers with risk-mitigation tools that
protect them from weather and market conditions that are beyond
McCain, meanwhile, is a vocal critic of the legislation. He wants
to replace subsidies with a "market-based" crop insurance system
that would protect farmers and ranchers against weather- and
price-related disasters. With this new system, McCain believes the
U.S. would end the objections of some other countries and open new
international trade opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
Both candidates propose immigration reform, an issue that has hurt
farmers who depend on hand labor in their fields. McCain has been
a leader of Senate efforts to reach a compromise on the issue, and
he accuses Obama of blocking progress of his bill. McCain also
would work to improve the federal H-2A guestworker program.
They also differ on ethanol production. Obama supports subsidies,
but McCain blames them for raising the price of corn, which helps
growers but has had a devastating effect on livestock and dairy
In other areas, the differences are less pronounced. On the
federal estate tax, McCain proposes a larger cut than Obama. They
both support a cap-and-trade carbon market as a means of
addressing global warming, but, according to a Farm Bureau
analysis, McCain would "exempt farms from climate change
The hallmark of McCain's agricultural policy is a "21st Century
Green Revolution," in which he calls for the USDA to launch a
"comprehensive research agenda to develop more stress-resistant,
higher-yielding crops to increase production per acre."
Obama's policy seems to be more rooted in promoting organic and
sustainable agriculture and "strictly regulating" pollution from
concentrated animal feeding operations.
However, the closer you look at Obama and the groups supporting
him, the more he looks like a standard-issue liberal Democrat. His
list of supporters calls into question whether his administration
might have "changes" in mind that would ultimately hurt farmers
Obama supporters include the Sierra Club and the Defenders of
Wildlife Action Fund. Also on the list is the Humane Society
Legislative Fund, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United
States, which is leading the charge for Proposition 2 in
California to ban battery cages for chickens.
Meanwhile, the list of organizations supporting McCain's candidacy
includes nearly every ag group in the West.
There is no doubt that agriculture knows full well which
presidency would be best for it, and for the nation.
We stand with them.
We endorse John McCain as our choice for the next president of the