2012: Where the Parties Stand
The party platform provides a clear view into the thinking of those who have selected the candidates for President. At its best and its worst, the party platform is the base on which the candidate runs.
Party platforms are the end result of hundreds of hours of discussion and negotiations among earnest and dedicated activists and their various interest groups within the party, including representatives of the candidate himself. How closely the candidate hews to the platform says something about both the candidate and the party that has nominated him.
The following is a summary review of planks from the Republican and Democratic Party platforms as they relate to the business of agriculture. It includes elements of taxes, transportation, energy policy, resource use and conservation and the environment.
REPUBLICAN PLATFORM AND AGRICULTURE
Mitt Romney The first specific plank in the agriculture section called for eliminating the estate tax as a way to reduce the uncertainty threatening the nation's farm families and for eliminating taxes on capital gains for lower and middle-income taxpayers.
The second plank addressed the importance of supporting risk management tools to offset volatility in weather and markets. It acknowledged the need for cuts to farm bills, including an end to Direct Payment programs as one way of seeking deficit reduction. It also called for continued support for the role of the USDA in agricultural research and food safety, urging Congress to ensure adequate resources for those purposes.
The third plank called for limits to judicial action on environmental management and supported producers and growers defending their water rights from the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers expansion of jurisdiction over waters, including non-navigable waters.
The fourth plank called for streamlining of international food aid efforts by the USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development by combining them under a single agency.
The fifth plank under agriculture's section of the platform dealt with the food stamp program, which accounts for 80 percent of the entire USDA budget. It called for Congress to consider block granting that program to the states, along with domestic nutrition programs, as a way to fight fraud and abuse.
Other sections of the platform with direct impact on agriculture included taxes, transportation and the environment.
Corporate taxes would be reduced to "keep U.S. corporations competitive internationally." A permanent research and development tax credit would be put in place, the corporate minimum tax would be repealed and a "territorial system of corporate taxation" would be put in place allowing profits earned and taxed abroad to be repatriated (for job-creating investment) domestically without penalty.