Biofuels, Trade Latest Hot Ag Topics for Presidential Candidates


The Montana Farm Bureau is closely following the “Rural Route to the White House,” U.S. presidential election coverage produced and distributed by Agri-Pulse. The American Farm Bureau is officially the exclusive sponsor of this coverage. This effort will convey to readers Farm Bureau’s support of farmers and ranchers being informed, active and engaged in the U.S. presidential election process. The coverage will be focused on the agricultural perspective of the presidential election, including the candidates’ positions on key farming and ranching issues.

The following information was gleaned from Agri-Pulse who reported on the candidates’ Republican debate on January 14 in South Carolina and the 10th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, IA on January 19. Farm Bureau has information on all of the candidates and their positions on a variety of agricultural topics on

Presidential debates and appearances at special events continue with most candidates touching on the subject of trade, bio-fuels, crop insurance and immigration, but none tackling issues like the EPA overreach, reform of the Endangered Species Act, public lands and natural resource industry concerns.

Four Republican candidates attended the 10th Annual Renewable Fuels Summit—Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee.  Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was not invited after recommending phasing out the RFS, a stance that has met with great opposition in Iowa, a state known for its biofuel production.

Trump jumped on the RFS bandwagon, assuring farmers and the state's biofuel industry that he would work to preserve the federal biofuel mandates that are important to the state's economy. Trump noted that the Renewable Fuels Standard is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence in the United States and said he would do all that is in his power as president to achieve that goal.

Santorum pointed his voting record and pro-RFS when he was in the Senate from 1995 to 2007 and encouraged Iowans to vote for a candidate who supports RFS. 

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, said “most people don't appreciate the fact that our agricultural system produces not only food but also fuel. We need to make sure we never import one ounce of energy ever again.”

Several of the candidates blasted the EPA for not adhering to the renewable fuel standards set by Congress and several times referred to the statutory usage targets as a “contract.”

Fiorina said politicians “got pressured by oil and gas and the EPA voted to change the contract.” She noted, “Rule makers are not elected and are not accountable to anyone, and that has to change.”

She was the only candidate this time to address the EPA’s aggressive expansion of its water rules, saying that, “a farmer has more right to protect his land, his family, and his community than nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

Meanwhile, a week before at the GOP debate, trade was an issue. Senator Marco Rubio talked about how Senator Cruz flip-flopped on ag issues, from immigration to trade to ethanol. Trump strongly stated that there needs to be tariffs on imported goods from China.

Trump added, “I'm totally open to a tariff. If they don't treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can't deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don't. It's not fair trade.” He cited Caterpillar Inc. as having struggled to compete with cheaper Chinese-made heavy equipment. 

Jeb Bush noted that such tariffs would backfire on farmers and manufacturers, explaining that most soybeans grown in Iowa are exported to China, and believes high tariffs would just make China take their business elsewhere.

Cruz tried to take both sides noting that Deere & Co. officials had told him about the difficulty of competing with China, but the senator said Bush was right that “if we just impose a tariff, they'll put reciprocal tariffs, which will hurt Iowa farmers and South Carolina producers and 20 percent of the American jobs that depend on exports.”

The recent Democratic Party debate in South Carolina did not directly cover any agricultural issues.



Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation




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