Dissents on Farm Program Funding
Helling and Ali Noller
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
agricultural policy widely supported by Democratic legislators
has garnered accolades from all of the Democratic presidential
candidates save one -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
The proposed new Conservation Security Program is among the hot
issues in American agriculture.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 authorized
the establishment of the CSP, a voluntary program that provides
and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement
of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, as well as
other conservation purposes.
Given widely held perceptions of Kucinich as the most liberal
candidate in the field, his position -- and his vote against the
2002 farm bill -- might seem surprising. But Kucinich criticizes
the provisions of the bill as insufficient.
"The CSP doesn't promote a greater environmental consciousness
when the benefits go to large agribusinesses. I'm for a family-oriented
agricultural program," he said.
Other candidates tend to toe fundamentally similar lines that
favor the farm bill and the CSP as currently conceived.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has embraced the program. The
CSP is one of the centerpieces of Dean's farm plan, said Andrew
Baumann, a Dean for America campaign issue spokesman.
"The CSP is a way to help support family farmers who need the
support while also protecting our environment and benefiting all
Americans," Baumann said.
Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., John Edwards, D-N.C., and Joe Lieberman,
D-Conn., along with Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., cast votes in favor
of the most recent farm bill.
"As an advocate of environmental rights, Sen. Edwards thinks it
is important to reward farmers who are using safe agricultural
practices," said Kim Rubey, Edwards' Iowa press secretary.
Gen. Wesley Clark also has pledged to support the CSP should he
be elected, as part of his Rural and Farm Security Plan.
Democratic candidates Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun
have been less definite in articulating their position on the CSP.
They have called for stewardship of the planet, advocating an
on environmental conservation.
The future of the program itself remains in question. The White
House Office of Management and Budget has yet to establish rules
for the program, which has been praised by President Bush.
Funding for the program is a subject of debate. The Bush
administration advocates a funding cap of $3.77 billion for the
CSP -- a provision that Dean, Kerry, Edwards and Clark formally
oppose. All four of these candidates, if elected, vow to repeal
any proposed spending restrictions.
Quotes from the candidates
Jesse Helling at [email protected] and Ali Noller at [email protected]