Several Republican congressmen have written to U.S. Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochburg, asking some probing questions about the business plan the bank submitted to Congress last month. They rightly express concern about the bank’s operations and risk management. They also cite the nondiversified portfolio of the bank, with its high reliance on the aircraft sector (which has long been about half of the bank’s exposure) singled out for particular concern. The letter, in short, gives a good indication of where bodies are buried at Ex-Im.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently asked each of the presidential candidates to respond to a series of questions about agricultural policy issues. The questions covered farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure. The candidates’ responses (full text here) were not exactly models of courageous and principled policymaking.
Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was campaigning in Iowa yesterday and, inevitably, went native. He –oh, hey, what a coincidence! — also released a 16-page white paper outlining his plan for rural America, which consists of four main ideas:
Farmer-friendly members of Congress are such a target-rich environment for ridicule when it comes to poor agriculture policy that it would be a full-time job just blogging about their utterances. So I try to spare you, most of the time. (You’re welcome.) But occasionally a quote passes my desk that is so ridiculous that I just have to share.
In a blog post I wrote about two years ago, I said “Usually when I hear that a policy proposal has bipartisan support, I instinctively check for my wallet.” At that time I was lauding a bipartisan proposal to shut the USDA’s market access program (although it seems that idea didn’t get much traction) under the heading “When Bipartisanship Is Good News.”
Politico yesterday reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is upset. According to him, the USDA just don’t get no respect:
An economist in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois posted an interesting entry on the FarmDocDaily blog yesterday, claiming that farm subsidies flowing to the biggest farms is a sign of progressivity.