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By Staff | Oct 15, 2010

You rarely hear the words “agriculture,” or “farming” spoken in Washington today. The Obama Administration is not focused on production agriculture or the issues that drive growth in rural economies. The president hasn’t put the words “corn” and “ethanol” in the same sentence since being elected. Ironically, Iowa elected President Obama and today, he would be far behind a generic opponent and the state will be unwinnable for him if the GOP nominates a strong candidate. How did it go so quickly from the state putting him in the White House to it being a waste of time for him to even campaign here? I think there are too many intellectuals and politicians in his administration and not enough people with executive and business expertise that know how the world works from experience. The Republicans made their list of promises.

Similarly, I tailored a list of 15 items that I believe would benefit agriculture most. 1.) First is Tax Policy: Make Bush tax cuts permanent for all. Everyone needs to know what their tax rate will be to have confidence in their economic future. The economy is going to be weak for a long time as the country deleverages and tax increases will only protract the time until recovery further. 2.) Fix health care 1099 reporting over reach. Requiring 1099s for $600 business transactions is a stupid waste of accounting bureaucracy. 3.) Make estate tax law permanent. An estate tax rate no higher than 35%, with an individual exemption no lower than $5 million, along with a stepped up basis for capital gains, Fix this and move on. 4.) Unlimited expensing of capital assets. Other countries do this and they have strong economic growth. 5.) Budget cuts taken from agriculture must be fully applied to deficit reduction. When the Obama administration cut crop insurance funding, they used part of the money to reward another political constituency. 6.) End direct farm subsidy payments/strengthen the ag safety net. Agriculture will contribute to deficit reduction as part of the comprehensive reduction in government spending.

The list pertaining to Trade policy includes: 7.) Ratify pending FTA’s and go negotiate more of them. The EU, Canada and U.S. trade competitors are advancing trade agreements while we stand still letting them take business from us. The Democratic Congress has done more to curtail trade expansion than it has to expand it. 8.) Don’t start a trade war that would destroy ag exports, tariffs against Chinese goods would wound China but it would kill U.S. agriculture.

My list pertaining to energy policy: 9.) The EPA should approve E-15 for all vehicles and then study raising the blend cap to E-20. The sweet spot for ethanol blends is E-20/E-40 and Brazil burns E-23 in all vehicles without consequence. Government should get out of the way to allow use of ethanol blends that will produce maximum efficiency. 10.) Provide loan guarantees, technical and logistical assistance for a dedicated ethanol pipeline from the cornbelt ethanol production center to the East Coast market. U.S. ethanol production nearly matches imports from Saudi Arabia. A pipeline provides energy security and reduced energy cost transportation savings. 11.) Extend the ethanol blenders credit and tariff along with the biodiesel tax credit to maximize consumption of domestically produced biofuels. None of this money goes to fund terrorists. The same thing can’t be said for the dollars we send overseas to buy foreign oil. Develop and implement a plan in stages to reduce biofuel subsidies as investment in biofuel infrastructure (blender pumps/pipeline/flexfuel vehicles) is made. 12.) Reauthorize wind credits. The expiration of wind credits has stopped new development of wind farms. Integrate existing and planned wind power generation into the U.S. grid. Don’t let lack of access to the grid stop wind energy development. 13.) Drill Offshore. Domestic oil and gas development should not be replaced with biofuel, foreign oil consumption should be. Drill -Baby- Drill. The folks in Louisiana agree. 14.) Fund Mississippi River lock and dam modernization. It is absurd how the government spends more subsidizing electric golf cart sales ($4000) to carry someone around the course, but can’t fund river transportation infrastructure improvement that would carry goods to ports for export at the least cost of transportation, delivering returns for decades. This project is shovel ready and suffering from benign neglect. It is the poster child of the lack of the administration’s common sense.

And my final point is: 15.) GET OFF AGRICULTURE’S BACK! Agriculture makes dust and unless you stop raising crops and livestock, it always will. Exempt agriculture from EPA dust rules and other regulations where cost/benefit lacks merit and let farmer’s farm and rancher’s ranch. Revoke the non-profit status of PETA/HSUS as these organizations are scams run to bilk do-gooders of cash. You can tell I’m not a politician as I was very specific and to the point as to items listed.

I believe successful implementation of the policy objectives listed would strengthen the country’s agriculture, rural economy and energy foundation upon which an economic recovery can be built.

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