Issue Position: Promoting Colorado Agriculture
Bob has traveled extensively throughout Colorado's farm country listening to producers who have traditionally been the backbone of the state's economy and heritage. They constantly tell Bob they prefer to compete in a free market that entails broader access to foreign consumers, fair treatment in the domestic market, regulatory relief, tax relief and less government-driven volatility in the marketplace.
As one who paid his way through college as a farm laborer, Bob understands. Bob also served on the House Agriculture Committee during his years in the Congress (1997-2003) and developed a wide reputation as Colorado's pro-agriculture representative in Washington, D.C.
Know the Difference:
-Supports opening up ag markets through fair trade agreements. (H.R. 3005, RC Vote #481, 12/6/01)
-Supports eliminating the death tax. (H.R. 2143, RC Vote #219: June 6, 2002)
-Supports low capital-gains tax rates. (HR 2488 #333 7/22/99)
-Supports accelerating phase-in of the 100% deduction for health care and long-term care insurance. (HR 2488, RC Vote #333, 7/22/99)
-Opposes giving the federal government more control of Colorado water. (New York Times, 12/26/99 Denver Post 9/14/97, Rocky Mountain News 6/20/98)
-Supports livestock-protection, predator-control programs. (Rocky Mountain News 3/29/08)
-Opposes opening up ag markets through fair trade agreements. (H.R. 3005, RC Vote #481, 12/6/01) (H.R. 3045, RC Vote #443, 7/28/05)
-Opposes eliminating the death tax. (H.R. 2143, RC Vote #219: June 6, 2002)
-Supports high capital-gains tax rates. (HR 2488 #333 7/22/99)
-Opposes accelerating phase-in of the 100% deduction for health care and long-term care insurance. (HR 2488, RC Vote #333, 7/22/99)
-Supports giving the federal government more control of Colorado water.
(H.R. 1356, Introduced 3/17/05, Mark Udall original cosponsor.)
-Opposes livestock-protection, predator-control programs. (Rocky Mountain News 3/29/08)
Bob Schaffer's Vision for Promoting Colorado Agriculture:
Bob has made several policy presentations to citizen groups and civic organizations throughout Colorado over the past year on the topic of promoting Colorado agriculture. Following are some of the ideas Bob has proposed on the campaign trail:
* Provide a smarter farm bill. Bob believes Congress can do better than the current farm bill that bloats the federal debt while awarding huge cash subsidy payments to multi-millionaire farmers. Bob supports a farm bill that provides stable price floors for volatile commodities, but which puts American agriculture on an ambitious glide path to free-market farming. Outrageous subsidies should not threaten the truly worthy elements of a farm bill such as affordable crop insurance, the Conservation Reserve Program, disaster relief and other programs designed to encourage industry stability and broaden market access.
* Open more export markets. Bob supports trade agreements that open additional export markets for Colorado products.
* Repeal the death tax. Bob will continue his efforts to permanently end the unfair death tax. The death tax can be particularly burdensome to family farms and ranches because these operations are often "asset rich and cash poor," the kind of business hit hardest by the death tax. Too often family farms and ranches must be sold off to pay the IRS rather than passed down to the next generation. If Congress does not act, the death tax penalty will shoot back to 55% in 2011.
* Reduce energy costs. Agriculture is energy intensive. Higher energy costs are pinching farmers and ranchers - from the cost diesel fuel to the price of fertilizer, agriculture needs relief. A balanced energy policy for America will ease the cost of energy and improve the bottom line. Bob's plan for energy independence will help American agriculture compete without pain at the pump.
* Expand homegrown energy opportunities. One way to add value to agriculture is to develop new markets in renewable and alternative energy. Bob's energy policy opens new opportunity for farmers and ranchers to harvest the wind, develop solar power, and increase bio-fuel production. Renewable energy is one way to keep generations of families in agriculture by opening new markets. It's good for agriculture and it's good for the environment.
* Build Colorado's agriculture legacy. Colorado State University provides world-class veterinary training and agriculture leadership. Bob will work with the School of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture Sciences to promote polices that protect U.S. food supplies against disease and agro-terrorism, and to protect food safety.
* Reign-in bureaucracy and create a responsive government. Bob will work to reduce bureaucracy in government and make the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior more responsive to the needs of agriculture. Farmers and ranchers shouldn't have to plow through paperwork, bureaucracy and regulations in order to make a living.
* Level the health-care playing field. Bob supports leveling the playing field for self-employed farmers and ranchers who obtain healthcare outside of an employer relationship by offering the same tax advantages as other businesses.
* Reform America's immigration system. Bob believes America must firmly punish illegal immigration and promptly reward legal immigration. Visa quotas should relate rationally to America's legitimate workforce needs and be administered timely without displacing jobs for U.S. citizens. Enhanced technology must be deployed to ensure guest worker applications are expedited legally, safely and that the terms of work permits are promptly enforced.
* Relax expensive, antiquated shipping restrictions. America's century-old shipping restrictions place U.S. agricultural producers at a competitive disadvantage. Foreign producers are able to ship their products to American markets at competitive international rates whereas U.S. producers are not. Bob supports easing U.S. shipping restrictions that add more than a $1 to the cost of a bushel of export wheat. These shipping laws cost American agriculture billions in annual revenue.
* Pursue other strategies for promoting Colorado agriculture. Bob supports more strategies to promote Colorado agriculture - some may be added to this list at a later date. If you have further ideas on how to promote Colorado agriculture, please share them with Bob's campaign.
Bob Schaffer's Record on Promoting Colorado Agriculture:
* Bob worked and paid his way through college as a farm laborer. He has experienced first hand the risks, hard work and rewards associated with working the land, raising livestock and being involved in production agriculture.
* As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Bob worked to open up new markets for Colorado producers. In fact, Bob was the only Member of the Colorado congressional delegation to serve on the Ag Committee throughout the time he served in Congress. (CFB News, 10/98)
* Bob worked to pass the 2002 Farm Bill, which provided a safety net for producers without encouraging overproduction. (H.R. 2646, RC Vote#123, 5/2/02)
* Bob authored the "Grassland Reserve Act" which was included in the 2002 Farm Bill. This legislation helps promote conservation of our nation's grasslands by providing financial compensation to farmers and livestock producers for maintaining their land as open-space and wildlife habitat while keeping tracts of land in agriculture production. (H.R. 1689, Sponsor: Rep. Bob Schaffer, Introduced 5/15/01; H.R. 2646, RC Vote#123, 5/2/02)
* Bob helped introduce and pass the "Emergency Farm Financial Relief Act" to advance Freedom to Farm payments to farmers hit by drought and severe market loss due to an Asian financial crisis. (H.R. 4265, Introduced 7/17/98; P.L. 105-228)
* While in Congress, Bob consistently supported research both at Colorado State University and USDA-ARS research facility in Akron, CO. Specifically, Bob supported work at CSU on the Russian Wheat Aphid and on economically important infectious animal diseases. He has also supported research at USDA-ARS on precision agriculture, minimum/no-till agriculture, soil carbon sequestration, and crop residues as bio-fuels. (Ft. Collins Coloradoan, 3/13/98)
* Bob worked to repeal the unfair death tax during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. The death-tax top rate will reset at 55% in 2011 if Congress does not act. (H.R. 1836, RC Vote #149: May 26, 2001, Denver Post 8/16/98)
* Bob cosponsored legislation to allow any taxpayer a deduction for amounts paid for health insurance premiums and un-reimbursed prescription drug expenses. This would help level the playing field for individuals obtaining health care outside of their employer. (H.R. 383, Cosponsored 1/31/01)
* Bob cosponsored legislation to establish a "flexible fallow" program for farmers. Under the program, farmers would be empowered to voluntarily idle a portion of their total crop acreage in exchange for higher loan rates on remaining production. The "flex fallow" program is more market-responsive than the idling programs of the past. The proposal adds a voluntary, conservation-use feature to the loan rate provisions of the Farm Bill. (H.R. 32, Introduced 1/3/01)
* Bob supported many other proposals to promote Colorado agriculture throughout the time he served in the Colorado State Senate, the US House of Representative and in the private sector.
What Others Are Saying:
* Colorado and American Farm Bureau Federation twice honored Bob with the "Friend of the Farm Bureau Award."
* Colorado Association of Wheat Growers named Bob "Wheat Person of the Year."
* Colorado Rural Development Council named Bob the "Trailblazer of the Year."
* Progressive 15, an association of rural northeast Colorado counties, inducted Bob into its Hall of Fame for outstanding "work, support and advocacy for the Northeastern part of the State of Colorado."
* The American Land Rights Association (ALRA) named Bob "Hero of Private Property." "Congressman Schaffer stood up to be counted in strong support of inholders, farmers, ranchers, sportsmen, and all private property owners," said Susan Walker, Associate Director of ALRA. "We thank him for voting in favor of Western interests."