In a normal year, we would have seen much more activity by presidential and congressional campaigns by this point. There’s less than five months left until Election Day, Nov. 3, and things are beginning to get back to normal post-COVID-19, so we’re about to see a big increase in political ads, events (even if they’re virtual this year), yard signs, and other great American traditions that come with our national elections.
One of those traditions is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s request that presidential candidates respond to questions about key issues of importance to farmers and ranchers. For the past 40 years, all major party candidates for president have responded to our questionnaire, so that Farm Bureau members can go to the polls informed about where the candidates stand on agricultural issues.
This year’s questionnaire touches on topics including tax policy, farm programs, international trade, energy policy, federal regulations (including reforming the Endangered Species Act, implementing the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule and ensuring speedy review of new biotechnology traits), and helping to provide a supply of agricultural workers over the long-term.
We’re also asking the candidates to share their positions on sustainability, and how they would ensure climate regulations don’t hinder agricultural productivity and competitiveness. Rural life issues are included, with a question about how the candidates would work to increase access to broadband, improve other infrastructure, strengthen economies and address health care challenges in rural America.
New in this year’s questionnaire is a question about food system resiliency, a topic that has taken on greater importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers and ranchers have faced economic hardships due to demand shifts and supply chain disruptions. Whoever wins this year’s election will be positioned to play a role in ensuring the future resiliency of our food supply.
These questions are relevant to congressional elections also, and I know that several state Farm Bureau organizations will be reaching out to congressional candidates to learn their positions on these or other agricultural issues.
Farm Bureau members are informed and engaged in the political process. We farm. We vote!
I’m proud of the role that Farm Bureau plays in turning the candidates’ attention to agricultural issues and equipping our members with the information needed to vote for who they believe will be the best champion for farmers and ranchers, as well as anyone who cares about having a strong agriculture industry and food security.
We look forward to sharing the results of our questionnaire. In the meantime, I ask all Farm Bureau members to take every opportunity to learn about all the candidates running for Congress or state offices. Ask them the tough questions that will help you to know if they will work for you—or, at a minimum, make them stop and focus on agriculture and realize that we farmers and ranchers are watching!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.