Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney has teed up Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as his running mate for this fall’s election.
Days after the official announcement, President Barack Obama was campaigning in Iowa and was quick to point fingers at Ryan for being “one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way” of passing a farm bill.
Many agriculture states such as Iowa and Ohio are up for grabs this fall. Dale Moore, deputy executive director for public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Ryan’s selection does make the farm bill an interesting footnote this fall and puts some pressure on Ryan when he’s campaigning.
In a radio interview, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said it is not just the nutritional title dividing Republican leadership on bringing up the farm bill, but there are also divisions on the Republican side regarding the commodity title and crop insurance including Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Kind, R-Wisc., who opposed Peterson’s 2008 Farm bill as well as Ryan.
Peterson said having Ryan elevated to the Republican ticket “probably does not help the situation, because he is not a fan of these farm bills.”
Ryan was likely selected for the Romney ticket for his strong stance on reigning in spending. Ryan is not shy about many of his views about how ag money during his chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. Ryan’s budget proposal last May recommended $30 billion be cut out of farm programs over 10 years by reducing direct payments and by reforming the open-ended nature of crop insurance.
The Obama campaign published a three-page paper is entitled, Romney-Ryan Budget Cuts: Gutting Rural American Economic Security, and includes citations and footnotes.
Ryan’s budget, released in February, but never adopted, would have lowered the crop insurance companies’ rate of return from 14% to 12%, capped companies’ administrative expenses by basing them on 2006 premiums, reduced the premium for catastrophic coverage by lowering reimbursement to crop insurance companies and reducing producers’ premium subsidy by two basis points for all but catastrophic crop insurance, where the subsidy is greater than 50%. The administration did not say how many farmers this last provision would affect.
He also proposed some fundamental shifts for nutrition funding, proposing a change to block-grants program for states to implement for food stamp assistance.
But as Moore stated, Ryan is an “equal opportunity budget cutter.” His suggested cuts to the committees have been expansive and targeted direct payments and crop insurance subsidies, but as Moore commented, “We in agriculture don’t feel he’s someone who is picking on agriculture.”
Many agriculture groups have policies on their books stating they support getting the nation’s fiscal house back in order. And Ryan has attempted to push the envelope on cutting spending.
Ryan does hail from a strong agricultural state of Wisconsin and has a voting record that is palatable to many in the industry too.
In his budget proposals, Ryan has been critical of how profitable farming has been in recent years while the government continues to dish out money to “large, corporate farming operations” instead of family farmers who need it “in times of need,” he states in his official farm bill policy.
He did vote for the disaster bill the House passed before leaving for the August recess.
As for the continued slew of regulations impacting agriculture, Ryan said he is “committed to promoting an environment of economic growth within the agricultural industry.” He voted in favor of legislation which prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from revising standards on dust.
Policy is one of the most important issues facing farmers today, but often the most difficult to digest. Jacqui Fatka has a passion to decode the often difficult world of agricultural policy into terms understandable for today's ag players.
Fatka joined the Farm Progress team as E-Content Editor in August 2003 after graduating from Iowa State University. Prior to full-time employment with Farm Progress, she interned at Wallaces Farmer magazine, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's press office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association and freelanced for National Hog Farmer. She also worked as a public relations consultant with Iowa Industries for the Future, an effort to bring together major players in the biorenewables industry.
Currently Fatka is a staff editor at a sister publication, Feedstuffs. For Farm Futures she regularly tells the story of ongoing agricultural policy changes. Her byline can also be found on management profiles.
Fatka grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband Eric, and their three children - Josiah, Spencer and Avonell.
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