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
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
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.
Paul E. Brule
Harold Bob Bennett
Wm Donald Clifton II