Issue Position: Agriculture
Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers deserve a Department of Agriculture and a federal farm program that reflects their values of independence, self-reliance, thrift, community, honesty and integrity. Federal farm dollars should directly impact family farms - not expand the bureaucracy. I am committed to bringing increased efficiency and decreased bureaucracy to each area of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and our farm programs.
The upcoming Farm Bill debate is going to be a critical moment for Oklahoma agriculture and I am working hard to make sure that these values will be represented. Given the uncertain picture in international trade negotiations, a temporary extension of the 2002 framework is likely. However in the long term, every aspect of federal spending including farm policy can and must come under close review. I will fight to make sure that our farmers are fairly represented in this debate and encourage your participation during this evaluation process.
Oklahoma agriculture has been hit hard by flat commodity prices, high fuel prices and poor trade negotiations. High natural gas prices have sent fertilizers costs skyrocketing and low supplies have forced diesel prices even higher. I was a strong supporter of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which will encourage further domestic exploration of traditional fuels and boost development of alternative fuels (including agrifuels). We must diversify our energy supplies and lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy, or this crisis will only worsen.
On agricultural trade, we must do a better job of ensuring that our products are treated fairly. For too long, we have sacrificed agricultural products in trade negotiations all in the name of diplomacy. That must stop, and I am encouraged by the team President Bush has assembled to negotiate on our behalf. Every nation in the world wants access to the U.S. market the world's largest. As a condition of that access, however, any country wanting to export to the United States must grant American producers similar access to their own markets. That is not happening, and must change soon.
It is my belief we must never surrender our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization (WTO) or any other unelected international bureaucracy. The WTO has become a vehicle for other nations to destroy our agricultural trade, and as your senator I will fight any effort by the WTO to dictate American farm policy.
Finally, I am committed to the elimination of the death (estate) tax. It is preventing the next generation of Americans from entering agriculture, and is a serious threat to the sustainability of farming throughout our land.
Our nation depends on a stable, efficient domestic farm economy to supply our most basic food needs. As a U.S. senator, I am committed to policies that ensure the long term survival of the American farm.