Victory for Obama – consequence for agriculture

07-11-2008 | |
Victory for Obama – consequence for agriculture

Following Barack Obama’s election night victory and promises of change, those in the agriculture industry are waiting to see what changes are expected with in agriculture. Some of his stances are highlighted on his official website and include:

• Plans to ensure economic opportunity for family farmers: Obama and vice-president elect Joe Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that will help family farmers – not large corporate agribusiness.

• Regulate CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations): 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 said he strongly supports efforts to ensure meaningful local control.

• Limit EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) Funding for CAFOs: Obama supports reinstating a strict cap on the size of the livestock operations that can receive EQIP funding so that the largest polluters have to pay for their own environmental clean up.

• Encourage Organic and Sustainable Agriculture: Obama said he will increase funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to help farmers afford the costs of compliance with national organic certification standards. He will also reform the US Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency’s crop insurance rates so that they do not penalise organic farmers.

• Develop the Next Generation of Biofuels: Obama plans to invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first 2 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013. He will also work to improve the national supply of advanced biodiesel. From here the Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Fund will speed the deployment of multiple facilities, according to Obama.

• Invest in Energy Efficiency: Improving energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, most cost-effective method to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it results in significant savings for the US government, economy and consumers, Obama said. Cost-effective energy efficiency should take priority over the construction of new generation facilities. Obama will set a national goal of reducing the energy intensity of our economy 50% by 2030.

• Support small business development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants.

• Country of Origin Labelling: Obama said he supports the Country of Origin Labelling law. He said American producers should be able to distinguish their products from imported ones and that consumers deserve the right to know where their food comes from.

• Improve Food Safety: The USDA and Food and Drug Administration need more authority to issue and enforce recalls for contaminated food, according to Obama. He supports efforts to improve federal food-safety surveillance to better improve the country’s ability to identify, contain and prevent outbreaks. He said he is committed to expanding resources to inform the public when an outbreak happens so that they can make good decisions about food safety.

• To spur the development of small business and value-added agriculture in rural America, Obama intends to help develop value-added products: The Value Added Producer Grant Program provides capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, such as cooperative marketing initiatives for high-value crops and livestock and farmer-owned processing plans. These grants are the seeds of new rural business and provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises and cooperatives, such as onsite or farmer-owned processing plants. Obama said he will increase funding for this important program.

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist