Vote 2008 Presidential Election Guide

The presidential candidates... ... on trade ... on energy ... on subsidies ... on disaster assistance ... on conservation/environment

Note: All statements on this page are excerpts from each candidate’s “Rural America” platform. Visit and for more detailed information.


John McCain

John McCain recognizes that agriculture is one of America’s greatest strategic assets. All Americans benefit from the safest and most efficient food production and distribution system in the world. Throughout our history, American farmers, ranchers, timbermen and commercial fishermen have formed part of the bedrock of our prosperity.

The benefits of American leadership in agriculture extend well beyond our borders — America’s contribution to meeting the food, fiber, feed and energy needs of a growing world population through efficient production and technology innovation are critical to our national security and world peace.

As President, John McCain will address the key issues facing agriculture and rural America: Establishing a comprehensive energy strategy; controlling taxation and regulation; judicial restraint and preserving property rights; providing a sustainable, market-driven risk management system for farmers; promoting agricultural markets and reducing trade barriers; improving incentives to invest in technology and rural infrastructure; encouraging common-sense conservation and food safety measures; securing America’s borders and implementing a fair and practical immigration policy; recognizing the role of agriculture in national security; and strengthen America’s economic competitiveness by eliminating wasteful government spending.

Barack Obama

For the past decade, rural America has not been well-served by federal policies, and if Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue these misguided policies, rural families will see their economic fortunes fall further behind those of other Americans. But we have the power to choose a different course. Local initiative must be matched by federal policies that empower rural Americans and family farmers.

Rural America faces numerous challenges, but also economic opportunities unlike anything we have witnessed in modern history. Resolving these challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities will depend on electing a President who understands that rural America is important and is willing to provide the leadership and prioritize policies to improve the quality of life in rural America.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that together we can ensure a bright future for rural America. A senator from a rural, Midwestern state, Barack Obama has worked to ensure rural Americas prosperity and vitality. As president, he will help family farms and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy. He will: ensure economic opportunity for family farmers; support rural economic development; promote rural Americas leadership in developing renewable energy; and improve rural quality of life.


John McCain

Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers lie outside our borders, and we need to be at the table when the rules for access to those markets are written. To do so, America should continue to engage in multilateral, regional and bilateral efforts to reduce barriers to trade, level the global playing field and vigorously defend the rights of American agriculture within global trading rules. John McCain will stand up for producers by holding America’s trading partners accountable under existing and future trade agreements. John McCain will push for the abolition of trade barriers which are not based on sound science to ensure that American farmers and ranchers who invest in technology and innovation can participate fairly in the global marketplace.

Barack Obama

The United States is the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products. More than 28 percent of wheat, 20 percent of corn and 35 percent of soybeans grown domestically are exported worldwide. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to break down trade and investment barriers to maintain the American farmers competitiveness around the world. They will help producers develop global marketing networks through the use of new electronic transaction systems and special promotion programs. And they will work to ensure that all trade agreements contain strong and enforceable labor, environmental, and health and safety standards so American farmers are able to compete on a level playing field.


John McCain

There is no single guaranteed path to America’s energy security. Our challenge today is to encourage investment in all available options for energy security. We must recognize the importance of the bio-fuel technologies available to us today, regardless of whether they become long-term solutions or serve as a transition toward continued innovation and investment in tomorrow’s energy solutions. America should look to its government to provide a tax and regulatory framework that fosters a predictable environment and encourages long-term investment in energy technology, production and distribution networks as we rely on private investment to overcome the challenges of developing new energy solutions.

John McCain’s proposal to address America’s energy security includes: Expanding domestic oil and natural gas exploration and production; taking action now to break our dependency on foreign oil by reforming our transportation sector; investing in clean, alternative sources of energy; protecting our environment and addressing climate change — a sound energy strategy must include a solid environmental foundation; promoting energy efficiency; and addressing speculative pricing of oil.

Barack Obama

As we develop the next generation of biofuels we must be vigilant to insure that we do in a sustainable fashion so that land and water resources are conserved. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will also work to improve the national supply of advanced biodiesel.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must ensure that local investment continues to play a significant role as the biofuels industry continues to expand and evolve. They will also provide an additional subsidy per gallon of ethanol produced from new facilities that have a minimum of 25 percent local capital.

They believe it is imperative that Congress adopt the Senate-passed proposal to increase the RFS to 36 billion gallons by 2022. They will seek to surpass these targets and establish a requirement to produce at least 60 billion gallons of biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, by 2030.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will establish a 25 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard to require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will also extend the federal Production Tax Credit for 5 years to encourage the production of renewable energy like wind and solar. This program will provide incentives to farmers and other local producers of renewable energy to boost rural renewable energy production.


John McCain

The 21st century global agriculture market is too complex for America’s farmers to rely on an outmoded system of pre-determined countercyclical payments that assumes narrow trading bands for these input costs and commodity prices. A market-based system of risk management will furthermore eliminate the influence of special interests on America’s agricultural policy. John McCain opposes subsidies, which distort markets, artificially raise prices for consumers, and interfere with America’s ability to negotiate with our international trading partners.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with the stability and predictability they need. They will ensure that American farmers are protected from market disruptions and weather disasters. They believe we should implement a $250,000 payment limitation, and will ensure those payments go to farmers who need them, not millionaire farmers. They will take immediate action by proposing regulations to limit payments to active farmers who work the land, plus landlords who rent to active farmers.


John McCain

America needs a risk management program for agriculture that reflects the realities of the global marketplace for food, fuel and fiber in the 21st century. When farmers suffer from a natural disaster such as droughts or floods, we should assist them — this is a commitment we have made to our farmers and John McCain will honor it.

Barack Obama

Farmers are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Barack Obama and Joe Biden fought to expedite disaster assistance to farmers in Illinois and across the country during difficult times. They will make the disaster program permanent so that farmers do not have to rely on the whims of Congress to get assistance.


John McCain

John McCain will direct the USDA to carry out comprehensive research to help develop more stress-resistant, higher yielding crops to increase production per acre. John McCain will also promote conservation programs that encourage maximum environmental stewardship, vital to assisting farmers in the improvement of America’s soil, water, air and wildlife habitat. Environmental stewardship programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetland Reserve Program have helped reduce wetland loss, improve water quality and minimize soil erosion. As America builds a new energy economy, common-sense conservation programs should be incorporated into the good agriculture practices central to sustaining healthy ecosystems.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will put an unprecedented level of emphasis on the conservation of private lands. They will increase funding for CSP and CRP, and create additional incentives for private landowners for sustainable agriculture to protect and restore wetlands, grasslands, forests and other wildlife habitat. In the Obama administration, the EPA will strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large concentrated animal feeding operations. Obama strongly supports efforts to ensure meaningful local control. Any program to reduce carbon emissions must include domestic incentives that reward restoring grasslands, undertaking farming practices that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or engaging in no-till practices.