Marco Rubio on ag
In the third installment of our presidential candidate features, we explore Republican candidate Marco Rubio’s positions on agriculture. Here’s what ranchers and farmers need to know about Rubio’s take on key issues that would impact agriculture in the future.
1. Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS) & Endangered Species Act
Rubio’s slogan on his campaign website reads, “Getting government out of the way of America’s farmers,” and he first tackles a major concern for many ranchers — the overreach and regulatory pressures placed upon farmers and ranchers by the EPA.
According to his website, “Marco will undo WOTUS, that will dramatically expand federal control over ponds, ditches and streams. Further, he will fight President Obama’s carbon mandates and excessive application of the Endangered Species Act, which can, when misused, deem huge swathes of productive land off-limits for agriculture or other beneficial development.”
In a radio interview where Rubio was a guest on AgriTalk radio with Mike Adams, Rubio expressed his appreciation for agriculture and the importance of food security in the U.S.
“We take [food security] for granted in the United States,” said Rubio. “We have a lot of people in this country that, when you ask them where does food come from, they’ll say the supermarket. They don’t realize that someone had to grow it. And we take for granted that we have a plethora of food and that we have it in what’s basically still affordable in comparison to the rest of the world, although prices have gone up a little bit, but not necessarily because of agriculture’s fault. And we take that for granted. Food security is even more important than energy security in terms of the future of our country. And if you lose the capacity to feed your people, not to mention export and provide products to others, you lose a major component of your economy. So what are the threats from government in that regard? The first, of course, is these environmental regulations. The second, for example, is the interpretation of existing law from regulatory agencies like the WOTUS issue.”
South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem, who is also a farmer, rancher and small business owner, has endorsed Rubio and said, “Marco has also promised to take a stand against environmental regulations perpetuated by the Obama administration that target farmers, including the controversial WOTUS land grab. He will stop regulators from using the Endangered Species Act to further their influence and control. He’ll replace bureaucracy with a common-sense approach, making institutional changes that limit the cost of regulations and save you money.”
2. Trade and farm subsidies
According to his campaign website, “Rubio supports Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which asserts Congress’s role in critical trade negotiations and paves the way for the creation of agricultural jobs. Marco will also push for timely completion of trade agreements to boost exports for American farmers and ranchers.”
In his AgriTalk radio interview, Rubio said, “I think it’s important for us to open up free and fair trade with allies and partners around the world. It has to be on terms that are fair. So I believe in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that means that we need to have a deal with Japan that allows us to sell beef and other products into their markets. I think it’s important for these deals. It’s good for us to have millions of people around the world that can afford to buy what we grow, millions of people in the consumer class. 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. And if they can undercut our growers, wipe them out, put them out of business, they then control the global market and can charge us anything they want, and as I said, we lose the growing capacity.”
3. Energy tax
His website states that, “Marco has long opposed big-government efforts to take over our energy economy, like a cap-and-trade program that would amount to a massive energy tax.”
His energy plan will rewrite the Obama Administration’s five-year offshore drilling plan, immediately approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, expedite approval of American Natural Gas Exports, stop Obama’s carbon mandates, expose the true costs of environmental litigation to taxpayers, support energy jobs of the future, and overall the tax code and cut taxes for businesses of all sizes.
“Plans pushed by many Democrats including Hillary Clinton are premised on the outdated and unrealistic notion that our energy potential can only be seized by the federal government handing out subsidies to favored companies and imposing new mandates and taxes on others,” said the Rubio website. “No matter which party is in power, Washington picking winners and losers is a recipe for failure. Rather than distort the market, the government should instead promote competition. Policies that expand access to oil, gas, and coal development can also expand access to the development of wind, solar, nuclear, and hydropower energy. Modernizing regulations and permitting processes will help develop both traditional and alternative energy sources and encourage energy diversity. Hillary Clinton’s energy vision is stuck in the past. Her plans would restrict consumer choice, grow the federal bureaucracy, and make energy more expensive for Americans — a burden that will fall heavily on seniors, minority communities, and the working poor. The Clinton-Obama approach has never worked, and never will. Government must focus on the kind of basic research it does well, and let innovators take care of the rest.”
4. Death tax
According to his campaign website, “Rubio’s comprehensive pro-growth, pro-family tax reform will permanently end the death tax and allow farmers and ranchers to immediately write off the cost of new machinery and equipment. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the plan would raise wages and boost investment dramatically.”
“As President, Marco will make sure we support our farmers and ranchers,” said Noem. “He will carry out a conservative agenda that gets the federal government off the backs of small businesses. He supports repealing the death tax that hit our family when tragedy struck and will reform our tax code to create jobs across America.”
5. Rubio’s National Regulatory Budget
Rubio believes that farmers and ranchers deal with huge costs imposed by the federal regulations, which interfere in labeling procedures, land use, and more. He has proposed a National Regulatory Budget that will cap the costs federal regulations can impose on the economy, including a limit for each individual agency. This will prevent regulators from imposing costly new rules on the agriculture sector at a whim, and give Congress the ability to rein in regulators.
6. Immigration reform
In his AgriTalk interview, Rubio said, “We need a reliable system that allows us to bring to this country, on a seasonal or year-round basis, temporary workers who want to work in agriculture, but do not want to be here permanently—and those are millions of people. And there’s a recognition of that in this country. Now I would start by saying there’s a significant amount of people in this country illegally who quite frankly never want to be citizens, do not want to be permanent residents, they just want to work for nine months out of the year, or six months, or eight months, they want to go back home for a period of time, and they want to come back again next year when their labor is needed. But they’re afraid to leave because if they do, they’re going to have to sneak back in again next year, so they stay. Because again, we don’t have a cost effective program that works for every part of agriculture, and that has to be fixed.”
In case you missed the first two installments of the presidential series, read more about Republican candidate Ted Cruz and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Next week, we will explore Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ views on agriculture. Stay tuned.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News