With the national spotlight on the race for the White House, the American Soybean Association (ASA) reached out to President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for each candidate’s points of view on issues critical to soybean farmers. Obama and Romney offered their positions on the farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations and transportation and infrastructure.
Farm Bill & Crop Insurance
In the midst of the worst drought in a generation, soybean farmers need risk-management tools and the certainty that a comprehensive farm bill provides. In addition to being the first bipartisan bill to take concrete steps toward deficit reduction, the bill includes disaster assistance, strengthens crop insurance, provides for conservation programs, market development at home and abroad, investment in renewable fuels like soy biodiesel, nutrition and feeding programs and countless other programs that directly and indirectly help soybean farmers and American agriculture as a whole remain viable and competitive in a growing global marketplace. How would your administration work to ensure that this bill is passed and the integrity of these programs remains intact?
I know that any farm bill passed this year – and there needs to be a farm bill passed this year – needs to have adequate protections and certainty for America’s farmers. That’s why I have called for maintaining a strong crop insurance program and an extended disaster assistance program. Instead of making soybean farmers pay more for crop insurance, as House Republicans have proposed, we will do it by cutting subsidies to crop insurance companies and better targeting conservation program funding. We need a strong farm safety net for all of America’s farmers. That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss. My administration has also expanded farm credit to help more than 100,000 farmers struggling during the financial crisis to keep their family farms and provide for their families. And as farmers continue to go through hard times because of this drought, we are expanding access to low-interest loans, encouraging insurance companies to extend payment deadlines and opening new lands for livestock farmers to graze their herds. I endorsed the bipartisan Senate Farm Bill and intend to do everything I can to get a comprehensive and long-term farm bill sent to my desk. Now, the House needs to do its part and pass this bill. Protecting American farmers is too important to let it slip through our fingers.
I support passage of a strong farm bill that provides the appropriate risk management tools that will work for farmers and ranchers throughout the country. In the near term, my immediate priority should be given to enacting disaster relief for those not traditionally covered by crop insurance as this year’s drought has worsened. My running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, voted for this relief in the House. Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Senate went home for August break without enacting them. On the broader question of farm programs, we must be cognizant that our agricultural producers are competing with other nations around the world. Other nations subsidize their farmers, so we must be careful not to unilaterally change our policies in a way that would disadvantage agriculture here in our country. In addition, we want to make sure that we don’t ever find ourselves in a circumstance where we depend on foreign nations for our food the way we do with energy. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest is achieve a level playing field on which American farmers can compete.