Republican presidential candidates' ag profiles

Jan 6, 2012

The Iowa Caucus last week culled the Republican candidate herd. Now, as the presidential hopefuls turn their sights on New Hampshire, there are just five—Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

Despite the ag-oriented nature of Iowa, farming and ranching issues were not highlighted by the candidates. Many candidates have remained quiet or vague on ag-important topics like the farm bill, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and subsidies. But we’ve done some digging for you to get some concise information on where each candidate stands on important ag-related issues.

Each of the five candidates is profiled below with information on political background, personal ag background, grade given by the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), and rank in the Iowa Caucus. The candidates’ positions on the farm bill, EPA, farm subsidies, energy, private property, use of public lands and ag-important taxes are included where information was available.

Information was gathered from numerous sources including (but not limited to) official campaign sites, public voting records, video interviews/debates, documented quotes, and online voter resources such as OnThe, and

Name: Willard Mitt Romney Background: Businessman, former governor of Massachusetts Ag Background: None ICGA Grade: B Iowa Caucus Rank: 1st EPA: Wishes to repeal the EPA carbon-limitation regulations and fuel-related standards set during the Obama administration. He has also stated a desire to see EPA prove its cost effectiveness. Farm Subsidies: Supports farm subsidies, calling the food supply a matter of national security and calls subsidies an investment in the future. Energy: Seeks development of domestic reserves of oil and natural gas, and “further investment in nuclear power.” Received an A in Ethanol energy policy by ICGA. Private Property: Opposes eminent domain where the recipient is a private individual or entity.

Taxes: Apologetically plans to keep the current capital gains tax, but seeks to eliminate the estate tax. Also has a desire to reduce the corporate income tax to 25 percent.

Name: Rick Santorum Background: Lawyer, former Pennsylvanian U.S. senator Ag Background: None ICGA Grade: A- Iowa Caucus Rank: 2nd EPA: Supports repealing the EPA regulations enacted during Obama’s administration, and speaks out against EPA as “hating blue-collar Americans.” Farm Bill: Voted “nay” against the 1996 Farm Bill (S 1541). Farm Subsidies: States on his campaign site a goal of “eliminating… most agricultural subsidies” and voted against extending the 1996 Farm Bill subsidies with a “nay” vote on HR 2646. Energy: Opposes energy subsidies and aims to eliminate them. Favors “tapping into America’s vast domestic energy resources.” Was given an A in Ethanol energy policy by ICGA.

Public Lands: Minimal information. Voted to continue consideration of proposed amendment which sought to increase fees on livestock grazed on public land (S amdt 5353). Taxes: Seeks to reduce the capital gains tax to 12 percent and halve the corporate income tax to 17.5 percent. Voted “yea” on HR 8, the Estate Tax Elimination Act of 2000.

Name: Dr. Ron Paul Background: Medical doctor, Texas congressman Ag Background: Inspected milk bottles on family dairy business as a child. ICGA Ag Grade: D Iowa Caucus Rank: 3rd EPA: Wishes to eliminate

EPA. Sees pollution as a property rights issue where polluters should answer to the wronged property owner in court. Farm Bill: Voted “nay” against the 2007 Farm Bills (HR 2419 and HR 6124). Farm Subsidies: Is very vocal about his opposition of any government subsidies, including farming subsidies and things like federal crop insurance. Energy: Opposes federal gas tax and would seek to utilize domestic sources of energy, including nuclear options. Favors a tax credit for production or purchase of alternative energies but strongly opposes any sort of subsidy. Was given a C in Ethanol energy policy by ICGA. Public Lands: Opposes the concept of public land in the first place and wants to see all current public land sold into private hands. Voted “nay” against the Omnibus Public Lands Management of 2009 (HR 146) and “yea” on an amendment prohibiting federal funding of the killing of livestock predators (H amdt 140).

Private Property: Sees private property rights as one of the most important things in a free society. Strongly opposes eminent domain and regulations which dictate what owners can do on/with their land. Taxes: In keeping with his consistent track record, Paul seeks to eliminate all forms of tax, including estate and capital gains. Voted “yea” on HR 8, the Estate Tax Elimination Act of 2000.

Name: Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich Background: Political Consultant, former speaker of the house, former congressman of Georgia Ag Background: None ICGA Grade: A Iowa Caucus Rank: 4th EPA: Seeks to replace EPA with a new Environmental Solutions Agency, a theoretically more locally-centered group designed to work directly with agricultural producers.

Farm Bill: Played important role in the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill (S 1541). Farm Subsidies: Favors “streamlining” of some existing farming subsidies, but strongly supports crop insurance and ethanol-related corn subsidies.

Energy: Seeks to end legal and regulatory obstacles to the development of domestic energy options, including lifting the ban on shale drilling. Supports ethanol subsidies and has frequently said his goal is to see an energy-independent America. Received an A in Ethanol energy policy by ICGA.

Public Lands: Only comments on the use of federal land where oil/natural gas exploration is concerned. Taxes: Seeks to eliminate both the estate tax and capital gains tax, as well as reducing corporate income tax to 12.5 percent.

Name: James Richard “Rick” Perry Background: Governor of Texas Ag Background: Raised on small family ranch/farm. ICGA Grade: C- Iowa Caucus Rank: 5th EPA: Intends to place a moratorium on new EPA regulations, audit existing regulations for effectiveness and impact on jobs and cut the EPA’s budget by 60 percent. Farm Subsidies: Has stated support for crop insurance, but wants to do away with subsidies, including things like CRP payments. Energy: Has stated the desire to eliminate tax credits and direct subsidies which “distort the [energy] marketplace.” This includes ethanol subsidies. Received a D in Ethanol energy policy by ICGA.

Public Lands: Most attention to public land use centers on energy topics.

Private Property: Has a history of voting against eminent domain situations where confiscated lands are given to private entities. Taxes: Perry’s primary message on taxes is to streamline and simplify the tax code. Additionally, he seeks to eliminate tax on “qualified long-term capital gains” and the estate tax.

Check with your state for the date of your primary election. Be sure to register to vote (if you’re not already) and encourage friends and family to get out to vote. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor