The American Farm Bureau Federation's Council of Presidents has been meeting this week in Washington D.C. and on Wednesday were addressed via teleconference by presumptive presidential candidates Barrack Obama and John McCain. Both pledged their support of American agriculture.
McCain spoke first, and talked about the need to support trade agreements that would open markets to U.S. agriculture calling American farmers the most efficient and productive in the world and that every market should be open to their products.
Obama emphasized his support of the new Farm Bill, saying he would have liked to have seem more reforms, but that on balance it did far more good than bad by providing farmers with stability in an increasingly volatile market.
Both men also addressed agriculture's role in energy and talked about the estate tax and immigration reform.
"It's outrageous that you can't pass onto your children and grandchildren the hard -won fruits of your labor," McCain said. He proposed an exemption level of $10 million with anything above that level taxed at 15%.
Obama on the other hand proposed keeping levels at the 2009 exemption rate of $3.5 million for single filers and $7 million for married couples, saying that the $7 million rate would exempt 99.7% of all tax payers.
"The truth is a complete repeal of the estate tax would cost the government $1 trillion over the first 10 years at a time when our country has some huge priorities," Obama said. "To finance that repeal, we'd either have to borrow money or we'd have to raise taxes on families who never even benefit from the estate tax or slash $1 trillion in public services."
On the issue of immigration reform as it relates to agriculture labor, McCain highlighted the need for a temporary worker program and Obama pledged to have a comprehensive immigration reform completed in his first year in office.