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Farm State Debates Involve Farm Bill

posted on October 12, 2012

The impact of higher gasoline prices was evident at the wholesale level last month. 

According to the Labor Department, wholesale prices rose 1.1 percent in September.  The inflation was noted in the wake of a 1.7 percent gain in August reflecting the largest single-month increase in more than three years. 

In both months, wholesale prices were driven higher by gasoline, which rose nearly 10 percent in September.

Core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, were unchanged last month, reflecting their best showing in nearly a year.

Separately, the government reported America’s cavernous trade deficit widened to a three-month high in August as slowing demand for U.S. autos and farm goods pushed exports to their lowest level in six months.

A wider trade deficit, of course, is not a welcome development for the economy.  And with the clock ticking down to Election Day, the rhetoric heated up this week as candidates debated everything from tax policy to a lack of progress on the next Farm Bill.

Farm State Debates Involve Farm Bill

BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.

RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It's been done before. It's precisely what we're proposing.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: It's been done a couple of times, actually.

BIDEN: It has never been done before.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan...

BIDEN: Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?

Over the past few years, U.S. agriculture has been a bright spot in dismal economic times. But that doesn’t mean the farm sector is above the fray of campaign rhetoric.

This week, agriculture stepped into the spotlight of several farm state debates.

In Montana, Incumbent Senator Jon Tester and Representative Denny Rehberg fought to differentiate themselves on the Farm Bill. 

Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT: "It’s a bill that makes sense. It goes over to the House, the congressman gives it lip service and it doesn't go anywhere. Let me tell you, I'd still be in session, would not be on vacation with the Senate if I was in the same boat."

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-MT: "Does anybody in the room believe I don't want to see a farm bill?I’m fighting for the Farm Bill. I don't agree with my leadership. I’m doing everything I possibly can to bring that bill out of committee and onto the house floor."

Tester and Rehberg also sparred over trade. Rehberg accused Tester of voting against agreements that would help Montana's wheat producers by exporting agricultural goods to overseas like Columbia and South Korea. 

Sen. Jon Tester: "I'm not opposed to trade at all. It’s important that we do have trade. But it can't be at our producer's expense. I felt those trade agreements were skewed, that’s why I opposed them."

Rep. Rehberg: "You know what’s interesting about that with Columbia, Panama, South Korea which I voted for? Since that time we've increased our agricultural exports from Montana to those countries by 200%."

The Nebraska Senate race features candidates who both acknowledged agriculture’s role—33 percent of the labor force in the Cornhusker State is directly dependent on agriculture.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-NE: “Agriculture is important to this state, but what’s important is we always work together as a state. There’s urban interest and there’s rural interests. The all coincide. That’s how we grow our economy. In fact, that’s how we’ve weathered this economy, fairly well in this state, because Ag economy has been strong.”

Former senator Bob Kerrey aired frustration over the issue’s absence from the national campaign.

Bob Kerrey, D-NE: “I’m actually quite appalled neither Governor Romney or President Obama are not talking about agriculture in this campaign. It’s an enormously important part, it’s the foundation of the U.S. economy. And ethanol? I fought for ethanol since I was governor. It’s been a great success.  It’s lowered the price of fuel. It’s improved the quality of our economy, its created tens of thousands of jobs. This isn’t a failure. This isn’t a threat to our economy. The interest of agriculture and the United States of America are completely aligned. There’s no need to choose.” 

And in the Iowa’s third congressional district, two incumbents, thrown together after redistricting, sparred over the lack of a new Farm Bill.

Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-IA: “They ought to be working back on it. It’s a failure of leadership not to bring it to the floor. It passed the Senate last June b-partisan out of committee, bi-partisan out of the Senate. They passed the bill out and there it sits. Leadership has not brought it out to the floor. I think if it comes to the floor, probably some amendments go to conference and get that done. But, you can’t go out and plan next year’s operation without knowing what the Farm Bill. You have to have that information.

Rep. Tom Latham: Out of about $800 billion in spending there was about a $16 billion reduction. Now, some people think that’s too much. The food stamps with the stimulus bill, the eligibility was dramatically increased, they benefit was increased about twenty percent. Now people are hurting, obviously. I think it’s time to look at it to make sure there is no waste, fraud and abuse.”

Tags: agriculture Bob Kerrey deb fischer debates Denny Rehberg Iowa Joe Biden Jon Tester Leonard Boswell Montana Nebraska Paul Ryan politics Tom Latham


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