September 30, 2008 |

Every Four Years, We Need a Wake-up Call

Editorial Comment

I should have seen it coming. A quick glance at the calendar would have reminded me that 2008 signals the return of unique moments in time and spectacles seen only once every four years.

It begins with Leap Year, where we are "blessed" with an extra day in February. An extra day of winter, what a treat! All in favor of making June 31 days, say "aye."

Then come the Summer Olympics. Two weeks of captivating performances by the world's elite, supremely conditioned athletes, and yet another reminder that I'm getting old and need to exercise. Uggh!

Other than my once-every-four-year pilgrimmage to purchase a sport coat, we're now in the middle of the Grandaddy of them all, the quadrennial circus: the U.S. Presidential election.

Agriculture stands squarely rooted in the middle of several key campaign issues including energy independence, national security, food safety, trade and rural development, just to name a few. And while neither Barack Obama nor John McCain possesses experience with shaping policy through the Senate ag committee service, they are both quick to co-opt their existing positions for shaping their agriculture persona.

McCain, a self-made reformer, has publicly taken aim at subsidies for both farmers and ethanol makers, and would likely attempt to trim ag spending in those areas accordingly, and is openly pro-trade. Obama sees these subsidies as critical to adding stability for food and fuel production and vital to rural economies, and is more wary of trade agreements which ship American jobs overseas.

In the face of the current administration's economic bailout of Wall Street, the insurance community, et al, and the continued billions for the War on Terror, any meaningful gains in agricultural policy could be redshirted regardless of who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. come Inauguration Day, Januray 20, 2009.

Since nobody should rely on a 30-second TV spot to make their decision, you'll need to rely on yourself to make an informed decision. Research your Congressional and Senate candidates' positions, get insight from your trade association, and above all, exercise a right that many in the world can only covet from afar. I know one thing, an extra day in June is definitely "change" I can live with.

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