Romney Talks Rural Issues, Obama Responds

The two major presidential candidates today broke their silence on rural issues.

Republican Mitt Romney used a stop east of Des Moines, Iowa, to deliver his first major speech on farm policy.

“Romney’s plan stresses four main points: reforming taxes on farmers, expanding farms’ access to trade, changing regulatory policy to better help family farms and achieving energy independence by 2020,” Politico reported.

The speech came on the day the Romney campaign released a 16-page agriculture policy plan.

Democratic President Barack Obama’s campaign shot back: “In Iowa, Mitt Romney told a series of falsehoods about the president’s plan for rural America. And unsurprisingly, he failed to detail specific plans of his own.”

The exchange came days after many Forum Communications newspapers printed stories about the lack of rural policy discussion on the campaign trail. Forum Communications asked both campaigns multiple times in recent weeks about where the candidates stood on rural issues, including agriculture, receiving no information.

The Des Moines Register reported that in Van Meter, Iowa, Romney “unleashed a rapid-fire critique” of the president.

In front of 1,200 people Romney said that he wants to eliminate the estate tax, “death tax” as Republicans call it.

“You paid for the farm once,” Romney said. “You shouldn’t have to pay for it again.”

Obama’s response, which came shortly after Romney’s remarks, did not touch on estate taxes, although he has said that his plan would eliminate them on most farms and small businesses. Instead, the president’s comments emphasize tax cuts that lower costs on 97 percent of small businesses and farms.

While one of Romney’s main issues is to reduce federal regulations, Obama’s campaign claims the Democrat wants “fewer, more thoughtful regulations.”

Romney blasted Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Department rules, saying “the regulatory burden under this administration has just gone crazy.”

“I’m going to cut back on regulations, I’m going to put a cap on regulations,” he added.

In front of a white barn, a red Massey Ferguson tractor and green John Deere combine, Romney said: “I commit this to you, when I become president, I will do everything in my power to strengthen the family farm.”

The Obama campaign claims the incumbent helped farm exports reach all-time highs during his term.

Obama also trumpets support of clean energy sources such as ethanol and biodiesel fuels and emphasizes natural disaster relief and his proposal for a stronger crop insurance program.