Excerpts from Obama’s “REAL LEADERSHIP FOR RURAL AMERICA” document:
“Rural communities in America are at a critical point in history. For the past decade, rural America has not been well-served by federal policies, and if Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue these misguided policies, rural families will see their economic fortunes fall further behind those of other Americans. But we have the power to choose a different course. Innovative rural Americans have demonstrated they can compete in the 21st century. But local initiative must be matched by federal policies that empower rural Americans and family farmers.
“In 1785, Thomas Jefferson said, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that more than two centuries later, family farmers are still the cornerstone of American democracy. They will stand with family farmers and helps them thrive for generations to come.
PROMISE: “Prevent Anti-competitive Behavior Against Family Farms: In an era of market consolidation, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will fight to ensure family and independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices. Obama is a strong supporter of Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) legislation that protects independent producers by banning the ownership of livestock by meat packers, and he will fight for passage of the law as president. Today meatpackers produce more than 20 percent of the nation’s hogs, and their share is growing. When meatpackers own livestock, they bid less aggressively for the hogs and cattle produced by independent farmers. When supplies are short and prices are rising, they are able to stop buying livestock, which disrupts the market.
“The 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act prohibits price discrimination by meatpackers against small and mid-size farmers, but the law has not been enforced. Obama will issue regulations for what constitutes undue price discrimination and his administration will enforce the law. He will also strengthen anti-monopoly laws; change federal agriculture policy to strengthen producer protection from fraud, abuse, and market manipulation; and make sure that farm programs are helping family farmers, as opposed to large, vertically integrated corporate agribusiness.
PROMISE: “Regulate CAFOs: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), which raise more than 40 percent of U.S. livestock, comprise a larger share of the livestock industry every year. Barack Obama has worked for tougher environmental regulations on CAFOs. He has supported legislation to set tough air and water pollution limits for livestock operations, including limits on nitrogen, phosphorus, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and other pollutants. In the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency will strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those who violate tough air and water quality standards. Obama strongly supports efforts to ensure meaningful local control.
RESULT: THE OPPOSITE HAS OCCURRED
PROMISE: “Encourage Organic and Sustainable Agriculture: Organic food is the fastest growing sector of the American food marketplace. Demand for sustainable, locally grown, grass-finished and heritage foods is also growing quickly. These niche markets present new opportunities for beginning farmers because specialty operations often require more management and labor than capital. To support the continued growth of sustainable alternative agriculture, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will increase funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to help farmers afford the costs of compliance with national organic certification standards. They will also reform the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency’s crop insurance rates so that they do not penalize organic farmers.