Public Statement by State Agricultural Leaders Endorsing Barack Obama for President

September 18, 2008

We the undersigned 38 former State Executive Directors of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) join together to publicly endorse Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.

As former State Executive Directors, we have experience administering programs that deliver billions of dollars of support to rural communities through commodity support payments, conservation payments, disaster assistance payments, and farm ownership and operating loans. We know firsthand the vital importance of these programs to rural America. One candidate for President has consistently opposed these programs since his election to Congress in 1982 and said he opposed the 2008 Farm Bill – a bill that continued these programs, substantially increased conservation and foods assistance programs, created a permanent disaster assistance program, and increased investments in next generation renewable energy and specialty crop agriculture. Senator Obama understands the importance of these programs to our rural areas, voted for the 2008 Farm Bill, and is the best candidate to address the issues important to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. We encourage rural families to vote for Barack Obama.

As state leaders we have seen firsthand the challenges our rural communities face and we understand the fundamental importance of agriculture to rural economies. Barack Obama has a strong record of supporting agriculture and rural communities and a vision for the future of farming and ranching in the United States. In addition, we support Barack Obama’s plan to improve health care, education, access to high speed internet, and other critical services for rural communities.

Senator Obama supports American agriculture, from commercial farms that feed the world to the small farms that market directly to the community. With a world population approaching 7 billion, and agriculture being asked to help achieve the goal of energy independence, we need all of our farms to be successful. Senator Obama believes production agriculture is a key part of the rural and American economy and supports a safety net that mitigates producer risk, fair trade and increased spending on agriculture research.

As a U.S. Senator from a rural, Midwestern state, Barack Obama fought for our priorities: a robust safety net, infrastructure modernization, preservation of our open spaces, and improved access to affordable health care. As president, he will help farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy. He will ensure support for economic development in rural America, foster renewable energy and strengthen the quality of rural life. Barack Obama deeply respects the traditions and conservation practices of our hunters and anglers, and is committed to protecting their rights.

In an era of market consolidation, Barack Obama will fight to ensure family and independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices. Barack Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law, which will require meat products to indicate their country of origin. And Obama will work to ensure that all trade agreements contain strong and enforceable labor, environmental, and health and safety standards so American farmers are able to compete on a level playing field.

America’s farmers have been at the forefront of the renewable fuels movement. Barack Obama has been one of the strongest proponents in Congress for increasing production of home-grown American renewable fuels and wind and solar energy. He believes that we must break our dependence on foreign oil and has put forward comprehensive, forward-thinking plans that will increase our production of clean, home-grown renewable energy, simultaneously enhancing our national security and the economic empowerment of rural America. The relief provided in Barack Obama’s comprehensive energy plan is particularly important for rural families and farmers who face longer driving distance and have less access to public transit than other communities. The revitalization of our rural areas is crucial to America’s future. Our open spaces and cropland are vital natural resources that hold the key to our food and energy security. A strong society cannot survive without a strong agricultural base. By strengthening rural America, we will strengthen America.

We have committed ourselves to work hard to elect Barack Obama President. We call on rural voters to cast their ballots for a leader who knows agriculture’s challenges and opportunities, and is committing to work on the issues important to our rural communities and farmers with innovation and dedication.

Daniel Robinson
Robert Peacock
Dave Warrington
Mike Newport
Karen Olson
Tom Grau
Brad Epperson
Terry Peach
George Arredondo
Bob Soukup
Bruce Nelson
Paul E. Brule
Rhode Island
Val Dolcini
Adrian Polansky
John Polhemus
New Jersey
Mike O’Connor
South Dakota
John Stencel
Hoppy Henton
Larry Burnett
New Mexico
Harold Bob Bennett
Wm Donald Clifton II
Arnold Roach
Marc Smith
New York
Jim Monahan
Jo-Anna Nakata
Jim Byrum
Scott Stofferahn
North Dakota
Don Davis
Dick Rush
Christine White
Steve Maurer
Doug Caruso
Steve Scates
Wally Sparby
John Berge
Jim Voss
Bill Baumgartner
Billy Burke
West Virginia