Obama Says Lobbyists and Special Interest Groups Are Blocking Key Rural Reforms
At a Rural Issues Forum in Adel, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today said that Washington lobbyists and special interest groups were working to block key reforms that would help family farmers and renewable fuel producers and increase conservation. Obama said he came to Adel to listen to real-life experts on rural issues before outlining his final policy.
"Washington lobbyists are working in Congress to block the rural reforms you need," Obama said. "Rather than investing in rural opportunity, our government is handing out subsidies to corporate mega-farms. Over the past decade, our government hashanded out $1.3 billion in federal farm money to people who aren't even farmers. We've even got farm money going to Fortune 500 companies."
Obama said we have an important opportunity with the farm bill before Congress to ensure that our government is serving family farmers, and not factory farms, and to strengthen a range of efforts to protect and conserve our natural resources, like land and water, and promote rural economic development. Obama said Congress also has an opportunity to do more to promote energy legislation that will help build a strong renewable domestic energy industry.
Obama said that talking with average Americans who live in rural communities, like he did during his time in the U.S. Senate and eight years in the Illinois state senate, is crucial to creating plans to strengthen and revitalize rural communities.
"Today is just the first step," Obama said. "In the coming weeks, members of my rural policy committee will be traveling the state to hear your ideas and insights as we develop our policies on the issues affecting rural America. Then, next month, I'm hosting a rural summit focusing on economic development and quality of life, agriculture, and renewable energy. And I hope you'll take part in that, because I want to hear from you."
Obama said he has asked a number of Iowans to lead the effort to create and enact his rural agenda. Below are some members of Obama's rural advisory committee:
- Mike Dunn, of Keokuk, is the former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs during the Clinton administration.
- Gary Lamb, of Chelsea, has farmed for 55 years and has served as president of the Iowa Farmers Union, chairman of the Iowa State Committee of the Farm Service Agency and as an agricultural liaison for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
- Neil Hamilton, of Waukee, is director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University. In 2000, he was appointed by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as chairman of the Iowa Food Policy Council.