Romney to propose agenda for rural America

GOP candidate to speak at Van Meter farm at noon today

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GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will take aim at President Obama's rural record when he addresses supporters at a central Iowa farm Tuesday.

“We already ask our farmers and ranchers to cope with natural disasters,” Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery at a campaign rally at the James and Margaret Koch farm. “They should not also have to battle a man-made disaster of taxes and regulations from Washington. Our economic recovery must also be a rural recovery, and my plan for a stronger middle class will ensure that our agricultural sector grows and thrives.”

To that end, Romney is proposing a rural agenda that would implement tax policies that support family farms and agribusiness, pursue trade policies intended to bolster the agriculture sector rather than limit it, ease onerous government regulations on farmers and businesses, and adopt energy policies that achieve independence by 2020.

The former Massachusetts governor said his plan will ensure America’s agricultural prosperity and support a vibrant rural America in contrast to an Obama record of a stalled trade agenda, onerous government regulations, and higher taxes and energy costs. He said the president’s agenda since 2009 has been one that “has consistently disregarded the concerns and needs of farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.”

“America’s farmers and ranchers play an incredibly important role in our economic prosperity and must be supported,” Romney said in prepared remarks issued by his campaign. “My Plan for a Stronger Middle Class includes policies that will help the agriculture sector thrive and deliver an economic recovery for rural America.”

According to a Romney campaign “white paper” on agricultural policy, the GOP candidate believes supporting rural communities requires much more than just a good farm bill. A comprehensive approach includes a fair tax code, a rational regulatory environment, access to markets worldwide, and “an embrace” of U.S. domestic energy resources.

Romney supports permanent elimination of the estate tax, opposes tax increases, and favors fundamental tax reform that lowers rates and supports growth, according to the Romney plan. He also will actively seek trade promotion authority and aggressively pursue new agreements that open access for American goods to markets abroad, according to the Romney plan.

In the area of regulatory reform, the Romney campaign position paper states: “There is little doubt that President Obama has put the federal regulatory train into overdrive, and unfortunately agriculture has all-too-often been the target. His onslaught of duplicative and unnecessary regulations, unworkable proposals, and threatened actions demonstrates little understanding of or appreciation for the nature of American agriculture and its challenges.

“As president, Mitt Romney will restore common sense and sound cost-benefit analysis to the regulatory process, something that has been sadly lacking over the last few years,” according to the campaign document. “He will establish firm limits on the costs of federal regulations and act swiftly to cut through the onerous regulatory burden that the Obama Administration has imposed on every sector of our economy, including agriculture.”

During Romney’s midday campaign event, officials with the nonprofit liberal public policy advocacy group said they chartered an airplane with a banner reading “Crack down on Wall St., not Sesame St.” to fly over the site of the Romney campaign rally. The banner was intended to hold Romney “accountable for his pledge to cut funding for NPR, despite his proclamation of love for Sesame Street’s character Big Bird during the first presidential debate,” according to a press release.

For its part, the Obama Campaign’s Heartland was slated to make a stop by the Romney rally with Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor and agriculture secretary, charging that Romney has offered no specifics on the farm bill, taxes or health care “except for his support for Big Oil and his desire to cut subsidies for PBS and the wind industry.”

According to the Obama campaign, “there has never been a candidate for president who knows less about rural America and farming than Mitt Romney.” The campaign also highlighted a letter that Obama sent to farm groups last week expressing the need to strengthen the farm safety net, extend disaster assistance and expand crop insurance and directed people wanting more specifics on the president’s rural agenda to the Web site.

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