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Views and opinions: Democratic presidential hopefuls talk ag

Soon Democrats will be able to vote in a primary election to select their preferred candidate to run in the 2020 general election. As these presidential hopefuls hit the campaign trail, they are offering insights to their policies and priorities.

Of particular interest is how they view American agriculture and what they are looking to change or improve, should they be elected. I’ve rounded up just a few examples from the growing list of Democratic politicians vying for the presidency. See what you think about these policies and ideologies.

•Beto O’Rourke: Among the 21 Democrats eying the presidential nomination is former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Speaking at Modesto Junior College, he proposed his bold plan to tackle climate change.

As reported by FOX40, O’Rourke told the students in his speech that should he become president, he would earmark “$5 trillion of investment in infrastructure, which can mean wind turbines and solar panels in the next generation, but it can also mean the infrastructure to transmit that power. The infrastructure to store that power when the sun is not shining, when the wind is not blowing.”

O’Rourke vowed to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and would rely on the EPA to “raise our standards for how we generate a new, clean power plan.” Additionally, on a campaign stop in Iowa, he talked about how farmers would be a critical part of addressing climate change.

As reported by American Thinker, O’Rourke told the Iowa crowd, “If we allow farmers to earn a profit in what they grow, if we allow them to contribute their fair share in combating climate change by growing cover crops, allowing the technologies that invest in precision tilling and farming, capturing more of that carbon out of the air is another way in which they can make a profit.

“Keep those farms together, pass them on to the next generation, and allow them to provide us our food and national security, our independence from the rest of the world, our ability to provide for the rest of the world.”

•Elizabeth Warren: Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to take down corporations in favor of family farms. Speaking to The Des Moines Register, she called out Tyson, DowDuPont, and Bayer in her vow to “un-rig” the system that favors larger players in agriculture.

She said, “We can make better policy choices – and that means leveling the playing field for America's family farmers. The number of purchasers of soybeans or hogs has shrunk dramatically. The number of seed providers has shrunk dramatically, and the diversity of the seeds (offered) has shrunk.

“Concentration in those industries has put a real squeeze on small- and medium-sized farms.”

•Bernie Sanders: The socialist senator from Washington is back, but will American producers “feel the Bern” this time around?

On a campaign stop in Iowa City, Sanders told the crowd, “I pledge to you to do everything I can to restore the well-being of rural communities all across this country.” Later, in an interview with Huffington Post, he said he backs a moratorium on mergers in the agricultural industry as a means to halt corporate consolidation.

“I think we’ve not only got to have that moratorium, but we have to go further. We have to start breaking them up,” he said.

•Cory Booker: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is quite active on Twitter, where the vegan politician is vocal about his anti-animal agricultural views. He recently told VegNews, “I think that what we see happening in America is an awareness growing about the negative impacts that our current food system have on animals, and it’s great to see that consciousness and how people are demanding a change. You see very powerful corporate interests trying to fight against that change, when we, as Americans, don’t want to be engaging in activities that don’t support our fundamental ideas of justice and freedom.

“So, legislatively, I want to continue to be a part of a movement of folks who are fighting against corporate interests that are undermining the public good and the public welfare. So, I’m going to continue supporting bills that are about public health, whether it is pumping in all these antibiotics into animals that are literally threatening the safety of Americans.

“I believe that Americans do care about the cruelty to animals, and that’s why you see public movement to stop pig-crating, which is harmful and violates our collective values as a country.”

Election season is just heating up, and we’ll undoubtedly hear a lot more from the 21 (or more?) politicians as the race for the Democratic nomination continues. Stay tuned for more thoughts in this column in the months to come.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Amanda Radke may write to her in care of this publication.