House ag leaders weigh in on election | TSLN.com

House ag leaders weigh in on election

Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent

DTN file photoHouse Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., issued competing statements urging farmers to vote for the presidential candidate of their respective parties: Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON (DTN) – With only hours remaining before polls open nationwide, the respective party leaders on the House Agriculture Committee got their final partisan shots across the bow in the presidential race.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., cooperated on the farm bill, but they have issued competing statements urging farmers to vote for the presidential candidate of their respective parties.

Peterson is asking farmers to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama because he has supported agriculture, while Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he would have vetoed the farm bill. Meanwhile, Goodlatte says farmers should vote for McCain because Obama made statements in a Time magazine article that show Obama is “out of touch with agriculture.”

In an op-ed article published in the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Journal last Friday and headlined “Obama: A no brainer for agriculture,” Peterson wrote, “I believe that anyone who understands the economic importance of agriculture – and farmers in particular – should support Barack Obama.”

Peterson stated that, “Obama is not a perfect candidate – no one is – but at the most fundamental level, Barack Obama has shown me that he understands agriculture, appreciates its critical role in this country, and will work with farmers. I cannot say the same of his opponent, Senator John McCain, who recently proposed abolishing the farm safety net and tax credits for renewable energy. Senator McCain has a long record of leading the charge against agriculture research, against biofuels, and against critical programs for sugar and dairy producers.”

Peterson said McCain has “one of the worst records in Congress on renewable fuels. He has repeatedly opposed and voted against all of the key biofuels programs and even said, ‘Ethanol has absolutely under no circumstances any value whatsoever.'”

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Goodlatte today issued a news release in which he took exception to statements about agriculture that Obama made in a Time magazine interview and urged farmers to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Goodlatte noted that Obama had said, “Our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs.”

Goodlatte maintained that Obama is blaming American farmers for high food prices, high energy costs, high healthcare costs, and global warming. “This kind of thinking seems out of touch with the agriculture community and any policies that stem from these ideas will invariably be detrimental to U.S. agriculture,” Goodlatte wrote. “In stark contrast, John McCain understands the value of our farmers and how important rural communities are to our nation’s economy.”

jerry hagstrom can be reached at jerry.hagstrom@dtn.com