Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Agriculture will be main course at Iowa caucuses

Agriculture will be one the biggest issues facing presidential candidates during the Iowa caucuses, which begin Feb. 1. Jerry Hagstrom, political correspondent for DTN The Progressive Farmer, has put together a comprehensive round-up of the agricultural issues that should be hot topics at the caucuses.

"The impact of the presidential candidates’ views on the Renewable Fuel Standard remains the top agricultural issue in Iowa, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have released papers on their broader views on agriculture," Hagstrom writes. Clinton has titled her paper, "Hillary Clinton: A Champion of Rural America." The paper by Sanders is called "On the Issues: Improving Rural America."

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has surprised some by putting his support behind Republican candidate Donald Trump, who favors the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), Hagstrom writes. The New York Times and The Washington Post have both chronicled the move by Grassley, who has served in the Senate since 1981, to get behind the outspoken businessman. Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and the ethanol industry have asked voters not to support Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, from Texas, who is one of the strongest opponents of RFS. The industry even wrote a letter to Iowans asking them to support RFS.

"At least two coalitions are trying to get the presidential candidates’ attention for their food and agricultural agendas before the caucuses," Hagstrom writes. "AGree, the foundation-financed effort on long-term agricultural policy, has issued a 'call to action' to try to convince the candidates to strengthen the agricultural sector. Meanwhile, Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food and Environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Mark Bittman, the former New York Times columnist now with the meal delivery service Purple Carrot, traveled to Des Moines last week to talk to the candidates’ staff about changing the U.S. agricultural system 'so that every American has equal access to healthy, affordable food; the agricultural and food system is fair to workers; and farmers are incentivized to reduce harmful agricultural practices,' they said in a news release." (Read more)

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