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Iowa winners: Glaring void on agriculture issues

It says something about the state of the media in this country that, on the morning after the Iowa presidential caucuses, the lead item on the pre-dawn news segments wasn’t Iowa, but the latest Britney Spears idiocy.

That a third-rate singer who apparently hasn’t an ounce of common sense in her substance-addled body was adjudged the top early morning news item totally boggles the mind — not to mention all the ad nauseam talking-head “analyses” of her latest folly.

The Britney circus aside, the Iowa caucus results are something of a commentary on the art of political prognostication, in that three months ago the pundits were all seeing Clinton and Romney as shoo-ins for their respective parties. Huckabee who? Obama? — charismatic speaker, but …

Iowa, for all the media attention and millions of dollars spent by the candidates, is by no means the horse race. Almost 10 months, a mind-numbing amount of campaigning — much of it in states far different than rural, conservative Iowa — and even more intense scrutiny of the candidates, their records, positions, personalities, foibles, and closeted skeletons remain before the November elections mercifully arrive.

The Iowa winners, as history has demonstrated, may well not be the eventual Republican and Democrat nominees. Politics is nothing if not unpredictable (and fickle); today’s darling can end up as tomorrow’s footnote.

Iowa was also an interesting commentary on how little significance is attached to agriculture in today’s politics. In a state that is intensely agricultural, in a contest with unparalleled media attention, the candidates’ talk was about almost everything but agriculture.

And good luck finding anything about their stances on agriculture on their official Web sites or in their position papers.

Of the top six winners in Iowa, Huckabee is the only one who specifically includes agriculture in the list of issues on his Web site.

A couple of quotes: “We have learned how disastrous it is to be dependent on other countries for our energy needs — we must never be dependent (on others) for our food needs.” “We must continue subsidies because our farmers compete with highly subsidized farmers in Europe and Asia … (and) I support a more flexible counter-cyclical revenue program that makes payments based on low yields and/or low prices rather than the current program, which is based only on low prices.”

Obama includes a few ag comments under the Rural category, saying he “will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability … will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so we help family farmers — not large corporate agribusiness … (and) will close the loopholes that allow mega-farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper operations.”

Edwards’ Web site has a pretty extensive section on “Restoring Hope to Rural America,” but little on ag-specific issues. Clinton’s has nothing. Romney’s section on trade has a few ag topics. Thompson’s has nothing.

Not that it particularly means anything. Our current president, who has been strongly supported by agriculture from Day 1, hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to return the favor.

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