By Gene Hall
The following views are my own. Neither my employer, Texas Farm Bureau, nor its AGFUND PAC has ever endorsed a candidate for president. As an ag writer for most of four decades, I am compelled to ask myself, “What kind of candidate would be good for agriculture?” This is not, however, an endorsement or even a hint of one.
An affinity for agriculture issues would help, as would an understanding of farm and ranch people. Farm and ranch families now comprise less than two percent of the population. Leadership pragmatic enough to listen and compromise on agricultural legislation is the only way anything to do with agriculture even gets a vote.
An open mind on immigration reform? Sure. The shortage of labor in agriculture is a real crisis. Free and fair trade? Absolutely. With only six percent of the world’s population, the U.S. must produce for export markets. Concern and respect for property rights? There’s not an issue more important to agriculture than this one.
Farmers and ranchers long for a president willing to stare down reckless federal regulators. The power of many federal agencies is out of control. The tendency is not to settle disputes, but to crush those who challenge this mushrooming authority. A federal agency with access to a 10-figure budget can run an awesome PR campaign. All of this is unethical and probably illegal. It’s not only agriculture that’s threatened by all this, but farmers are definitely in the crosshairs of a difficult and costly battle. The rules are so broad that farmers often don’t know they are in violation.
I started this piece by saying the ability to compromise is important. I can do that, too. I don’t need all of this in my search for a candidate. Why not sum it up with a single word? Leadership.