Obama, Romney address biodiesel question from soybean group

By The American Soybean Association | October 15, 2012

With the national spotlight on the race for the White House, the American Soybean Association reached out to President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for each candidate’s points of view on issues critical to soybean farmers. Obama and Romney offered their positions on the farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure. 

“Agriculture is a powerful and positive segment of the American economy, and the financial health of our nation’s farms needs to be among the top priorities in the larger political dialogue,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “The responses offered by President Obama and Governor Romney provide a window into how each candidate would approach soybean industry issues over the next four years. We are grateful to President Obama and Governor Romney for their feedback on these issues, and we know that the input will help soybean farmers make the most informed choice possible as they head to the polls next month.”

The candidates were posed the following statement and subsequent question about biodiesel. “As oil prices rise and dependence on foreign oil continues to present a major issue for national security, the renewable energy industry has provided many innovations and positive developments in American power. Chief among these is the development of biodiesel, more than half of which is made from American soy. Producing a record 1.1 billion gallons in 2011, the biodiesel industry provides a valuable market for soybean farmers while creating a surplus of soybean meal that, in turn, lowers the price of animal feed. Tools like the Renewable Fuel Standard and the Biodiesel Tax Incentive ensure that this industry is allowed to continue to competitively produce clean, renewable American fuel, generate thousands of jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. How would your administration protect the ability of the biodiesel industry to remain viable?”

In response, Obama said, We must invest in a clean energy economy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I recently announced a new goal of cutting oil imports in half by the end of the decade. Developing the next generation of biofuels will help us achieve this goal, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil will help create millions of new jobs that can't be outsourced. We are already making progress. U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history. Last year, rural America produced enough renewable fuels to meet roughly 8 percent of our needs, helping us increase our energy independence to its highest level in 20 years. And a higher renewable fuel standard is boosting an industry that supports 39,000 jobs and ensuring its continued growth.”

Romney’s response to the question about biodiesel was, “I have a plan to achieve North American energy independence by 2020, and biofuels will play a role in enabling us to achieve that goal. I believe that all of our energy resources are and should continue to be a source of long-term competitive advantage for our nation. My policies broadly aim to ensure that all of our energy industries can sustainably become competitive, innovative and efficient. I support biofuels, as well as the RFS, and would seek to eliminate the regulatory barriers to a diversification of our fuel system.”

Both candidates expressed a desire to pass a comprehensive farm bill as quickly as possible. Obama pointed to importance of risk management and disaster assistance in the farm bill, saying, “We need a strong farm safety net for all of America’s farmers. That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss. My administration has also expanded farm credit to help more than 100,000 farmers struggling during the financial crisis to keep their family farms and provide for their families.” 

Romney emphasized the need to maintain the competitiveness of the American farmer, saying, “We must be cognizant that our agricultural producers are competing with other nations around the world. Other nations subsidize their farmers, so we must be careful not to unilaterally change our policies in a way that would disadvantage agriculture here in our country. In addition, we want to make sure that we don’t ever find ourselves in a circumstance where we depend on foreign nations for our food the way we do with energy. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest is achieve a level playing field on which American farmers can compete.”  

On biotechnology, Obama said, “Advances in biotechnology have strengthened agriculture, one of the country’s largest industries. Today, an amazing variety of innovative products are being made from soybeans that would have been unimaginable just a generation ago. And the key to building upon America’s agriculture exports of more than $137 billion lies in developing even more innovative products. That is why my administration is working to streamline the regulatory process, reducing costs and reducing the time for review for new inventions, while still ensuring that crops are fully reviewed to ensure health and environmental safety.”

Romney expressed his opposition to the estate tax, saying, “At the very heart of U.S. agriculture is the family farm. Traveling across the heartland of America and visiting with farm families, I have been continuously impressed with their entrepreneurial spirit and drive to be successful. It is my pledge to rural America that the federal government will not force our farmers and ranchers to sell their operations or part of their operations simply to pay death taxes as their operations pass from one generation to next. For this reason, I fully support eliminating the death tax. Family farms and ranches built on strong rural values and work ethic should not be penalized through the heavy hand of government. Family farms are and need to continue to be the backbone of rural America.”

Click here to view the complete questionnaire and the candidates’ responses. 

 

 
 
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