WASHINGTON – The Republican and Democratic presidential candidates both supported lowering farm payment limits and limiting such assistance to family farmers.

Payment limits were a focal point of debates in Congress on the 2008 Farm Bill, passed in June over President Bush’s veto. President-Elect Barak Obama voted for the 2008 Farm Bill, saying it had more good provisions such as support for hunger and conservation programs, than bad provisions. His opponent Senator John McCain opposed the bill.

Now that Obama has been elected, here’s a look at his views on agriculture as stated during the presidential campaign.

Obama wants to make a disaster assistance program permanent so farmers would not have to wait for Congress to decide whether aid is needed in the wake of individual natural disasters.

The Democrat supports country-of-origin labeling, which requires meat and perishable farm products to indicate from where they came. The Farm Bill expanded the list of products covered by the law effective Sept. 30.

Obama would increase funding for a cost-sharing program for organic certification to help farmers afford the costs of complying with national standards for organic food, a fast-growing sector of the American food market. 

There are not enough young people entering farming, according to Obama, so he would help the public university system and farm extension service work with youth groups to identify and prepare future farmers. He also favors tax breaks for landowners selling to beginning family farmers and for people going into farming.

Obama wants to work to break down trade and investment barriers to maintain American farmers’ competitiveness around the world. He would broaden export promotion programs with training and through new electronic transaction systems to help producers develop global marketing networks. He also would work to ensure all trade agreements contain strong and enforceable labor, environmental and safety standards.

The Illinois senator says he supports efforts to improve food safety by boosting America’s ability to identify, contain and prevent outbreaks and to inform the public when an outbreak happens. He says he wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to have more authority to issue and enforce recalls of contaminated food.

Obama would encourage the use of technologies to produce power from animal wastes, and farming practices that reduce energy use and maintain soil health. He also pledges to expand federal energy efficiency and conservation projects and support for industries that produce new value-added agricultural products.

The Democrat wants to use some of the revenue from carbon dioxide emissions permits for investments in clean-energy development and deployment. This would create jobs and stimulate economic growth, especially in rural America, he says.

Incorporating more biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, into the national supply is another Obama goal – 7.57 billion litres (2 billion gallons) of cellulosic ethanol in the system by 2013 and a requirement of at least 227 billion litres (60 billion gallons) of biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, by 2030.

Obama would create incentives for communities to invest in biofuel refineries and also would provide a subsidy for ethanol produced from new facilities.

Obama also wants incentives for forest owners, farmers and ranchers to plant trees, restore grasslands, and use farming practices that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or engage in no-till practices that retain carbon dioxide currently stored in the soil.

America.gov is a function of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.

More information on Obama’s positions is available on his Web site at: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/ruralplan/