Five Questions with the Candidates for the U.S. Senate
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 25, 2016) — Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Policy Committee reached out to the three candidates running for Indiana’s open seat in the United States Senate with some questions about important issues to Indiana corn and soybean farmers. Their answers appeared in the spring issue of the Indiana Corn and Soybean Review.
Republican Congressmen Todd Young of Bloomington and Marlin Stutzman of Howe will face off in theMay 3rd primary. The winner will likely face former Democratic Congressman Baron Hill of Seymour in November.
The organizations asked all three candidates five questions pertaining to federal ag policy:
Why are you best prepared to represent Indiana farmers in the United States Senate?
Baron Hill: I can deliver results. I represented a mostly rural district in Congress and I was proud to be a leader in the moderate Blue Dog coalition. Our group was formed based on the idea that solutions are found in the middle by reaching across the aisle. That’s where most Hoosiers are. I think that is missing in Washington today. There is too much shouting and not enough listening. I want to go to Washington to work with my friend Joe Donnelly to start getting things done again.
Marlin Stutzman: First of all, I am the only farmer running for Indiana’s United States Senate seat. That fact alone makes me uniquely “prepared” to represent fellow farmers. Federal Farm Policy is not just an academic exercise but has practical implications that only farmers understand. Growing up farming 4,000 acres in northern Indiana gave me the necessary perspective to evaluate these policies. For instance, key questions emerge from the bevy of government of programs and regulations farmers see coming out of Washington. When evaluating any individual policy I will ask the same questions a farmer would – how will I manage my risk, my land, and my payroll?
Todd Young: I understand the unique challenges and issues that confront our farmers. However, simply understanding the issues is not enough. I have and will continue to diligently advance policy proposals to roll back the EPA’s bureaucratic overreach, open up new global markets through free trade agreements, and work to ensure Indiana farmers have a tax code that incentivizes their work. My position on the Ways & Means Committee has provided me the unique opportunity to serve my farmer constituents by advocating for a beneficial TPP and more importantly to ensure for the permanent extension of the section 179 accelerated depreciation tax credit, ensuring farmers have the ability to grow their business by regularly reinvesting in equipment and machinery.
The EPA and some in Congress have been working to diminish the Renewable Fuel Standard and the production and use of ethanol. Will you actively support the RFS and ethanol as a quality alternative to oil?
BH: The Renewable Fuel Standard works. RFS is a perfect example of what is wrong with Congress as extremists on both sides have put ideology ahead of evidence. Today, the RFS increases the bottom-line of farmers, makes fuel cheaper for consumers, and creates an environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline. I was proud to support it in Congress, and I will continue to support it as a US Senator.
MS: Indiana has a strong tradition of ethanol production with over 1 billion gallons of statewide production capacity. This capacity was built up with a certain understanding on the part of farmers and ethanol producers following the 2007 law passing before I arrived in Congress. I have taken the position that the government must provide some certainty as it pertains to ethanol and adhere to its 2007 obligations. This has come up recently with EPA’s attempt to deviate from Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) originally laid out by Congress. I have also said that after 2022 there needs to be an evaluation of where ethanol stands in the marketplace to ensure we are doing right by the consumer and the American taxpayer.
TY: I am cognizant of the difficult, long-term planning so many Hoosiers farmers must undertake each season. Such planning efforts are, in part, made difficult through the EPAs continual delays and changes to the RFS requirements. I promise to work to instill free market principles in the renewable fuels sector that allows this vibrant industry to operate efficiently and effectively without the need for government mandates and market distorting subsidies.
The administration has recently signed the major Trans Pacific Trade Partnership trade deal which could greatly expand use of Indiana ag products around the world. Do you support TPP?
BH: I am continuing to study the TPP. My first rule when evaluating all trade deals is “do no harm.” Any trade deal the Senate agrees to must be a net benefit to the Indiana economy. TPP does provide new opportunities for some segments of the agricultural sector but I am leery of trade deals that have overpromised and undelivered for Hoosiers in the past.
MS: First of all, let me say that in June I supported Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that creates a fast-track process for the President to negotiate future trade deals to help our nation’s farmers reach new markets. That was a big first step going forward and I was proud to support it. As for the TPP, the devil remains in the details. What I mean by that is that the President has yet to send implementing language to Congress to evaluate. In principle, I support opening up markets for export wherever possible and intend to do what is best for Indiana Agriculture when this agreement is considered before Congress. In the meantime, I will continue to meet with numerous Hoosier leaders in agriculture to best understand the impact of this legislation on Indiana.
TY: I am a staunch supporter of free trade agreements that will benefit Hoosier farmers, manufacturers, and consumers alike. As a member of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, I look forward to robustly reviewing the entirety of this agreement this Congress. It is critical that we open up the other 95% of world’s consumers to Hoosier farmers, and enactment of the TPP agreement would be a vital step in expanding markets to U.S. producers.
President Obama has proposed cuts to crop insurance programs and a spending bill in Washington even proposed major cuts to these programs. Do you support opening up the farm bill for any reason and will you oppose cuts to farm programs?
BH: I do not support opening up the farm bill. Farmers are the primary job creators in rural Indiana. When we do not support farmers, the rural small businesses and communities they support suffer. The current crop insurance program ensures that farmers can continue to play this critical role in the rural economy. We should not jeopardize it by opening up a carefully negotiated farm bill.
MS: Crop insurance is a great example of a private-public partnership that should continue to be strengthened to help farmers manage risk. When I served on the House Committee on Agriculture, I fought to do just that while working on the Farm Bill. Most recently, I was outraged last year when I saw the year-end spending deal included cuts to crop insurance programs. Not only did I vote against the bill that included those cuts, I joined Chairman Conaway in demanding a commitment that our leadership would pull those cuts back. The result was a full reversal of the cuts in subsequent legislation. You see, actions speak louder than words. Anyone can take a policy position but few can say they have taken an active stand on the important issues facing Indiana farmers today.
TY: I think it is reasonable for farmers to expect that once a long-term Farm Bill is passed and signed into law, it is just that - law. Crop insurance programs are crucial to Indiana farmers, and for Congress to explore opening up the Farm Bill each year to pay for others programs is unfair.
Recently, we’ve seen the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers attempt to exert unprecedented authority on farmland with rules like “Waters of the United States.” What can be done to protect the rights of farmers while keeping the EPA’s core mission of environmental protection in place?
BH: The EPA’s approach disregarded the input from the people who Waters of the United States will effect. It does not make sense for a rule about water supplies to apply to areas that may not even have standing water. Worse, the straightjacket of these regulations will make it harder for some farmers to pursue conservation measures. The EPA should go back to the drawing board and include all stakeholders in a real discussion so that all our citizens have the assurance of clean water.
MS: I often say that farmers already have the best incentive to take care of their land – after all, we live off of it. But we’ve reached a sad point in this country where puddles, ditches, and other standing water on my farm can be concluded to be “navigable water” and therefore subject to scores of incomprehensible Washington regulations. As a co-sponsor of the original legislation to stop the WOTUS rule, I was extremely disappointed in President Obama’s veto last month of legislation repealing it. As a farmer, since coming to Congress I have made it my mission to stop this type of federal encroachment on my fellow farmers and agri-businesses.
TY: I believe the “Waters of the US” rule is one of the largest government overreaches this Administration has advanced. A proposal I championed and passed through the House in July would require economically significant rules, such as Waters of the USA, to come before Congress for an up or down vote. This bill would put Hoosiers and their elected representatives in Congress back in charge of writing the laws we live under, including onerous bureaucratic proposals like the WOTUS rule.
For more information on ICGA’s activities, visit www.incorn.org/icga. For more information on ISA’s policy activities, visit www.indianasoybean.com/membership.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, international marketing, new soybean uses, aquaculture, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 950 dues-paying members. For more information, visit www.indianasoybean.com.
The ICGA board, which works with the state and federal governments to develop and promote sound policies that benefit Indiana corn farmers, consists of 15 farmer-directors who provide leadership to the organization on behalf of the nearly 600 ICGA members statewide. Learn more at www.incorn.org/icga.
This communications was NOT funded with Indiana soybean or corn checkoff dollars.