Santorum lacking in farm policies

This is an election year. Do you know where your favorite candidate stands on issues?

In an age of opportunity for enlightenment and full disclosure, thanks to the gilded age of all things digital, it may be surprising to learn that not everyone knows what positions their favorite political candidate stands for, or against.

For sake of simplicity, this column will focus on one presidential candidate, Sen. Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. As time allows, I may explore the positions of other candidates in future columns.

My first inquiry was to visit Santorum?s website on the Political Guide web page, (thepoliticalguide.com/Profiles/Senate/Pennsylvania/Rick_Santorum). I also visited his official website (ricksantorum.com) to gain more insight into his politics.

I was disappointed in what Santorum says and does not say about agricultural policy. More specifically, agriculture is not even indirectly mentioned, with one exception where he opposes the EPA on regulating farm dust.

Other than that, plus supporting the negotiation and implementation of free-trade agreements, there?s no direct mention of any important agricultural policy.

In the editorial section on his website, Santorum indicates he will eliminate all subsidies to energy companies and halt regulatory encroachment into the lives of all Americans. One can only assume he favors elimination of all farm program subsidies as well, including crop insurance subsidies.

However, his reputation on regulatory reform is dubious, at best. While he vigorously opposes increased regulations on American businesses, Santorum?s record as senator indicates he favors increased federal oversight of Americans.

Contributing columnist for the online Forbes edition, Frank Miniter, writes that Santorum?s latest legislative initiative actually imposes further regulation on Americans.

My guess is that no Kansas Republican who attended the recent caucus has an inkling of Santorum?s position on animal rights and his close association with the Humane Society of the United States). Otherwise, he might not have received the landslide endorsement.

For animal agriculture, a primary component of all things agricultural within the state of Kansas, HSUS is to agriculture what a match is to gasoline. They do not mix well, and when they do, they explode.

Animal agriculture produces food, fiber and numerous products for Americans and people in other countries. HSUS is dedicated to the complete elimination of animal agriculture.

As early as 1995, Sen. Santorum publicly stood alongside HSUS proposing legislation that would regulate the breeding and care of dogs. A 1995 issue of Animal People, an animal-rights newspaper, reported: ?August 10 (1995) dawned bright for the Humane Society of the U.S., as newspapers across the country carried a photo of HSUS director of legislative affairs Wayne Pacelle and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) decrying puppy mills at a press conference?.?

Though that legislation, the Puppy Protection Act of 2001, never made it to the president?s desk for a signature, another version of that bill awaits final work. Imagine the irony if that legislation were to pass both houses and be signed by a President Santorum.

Santorum also voted in 2006 to stop horse slaughtering by defunding federal inspections of horse slaughtering facilities. The result was more horses were abandoned on federal lands and veterinarians indicated the welfare of horses declined significantly after this legislation became law.

President Obama reversed the law by signing an agricultural bill that was passed in both houses in 2011.

Santorum?s stated position on any farm program is sketchy at best. Though his website did not offer policy on farm programs, I was able to glean some of his opinions from Miniter?s column regarding the Conservation Reserve Program. Santorum is not a fan of CRP, believing farmers should not be paid to keep land out of production. However, he favors paying farmers for land in CRP for environmental purposes.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association did conduct a survey of candidates on farm related issues. Though Santorum rated an ?A? on the scorecard, one suspects Iowa Corn staffers were unaware of his association with HSUS.

According to Miniter?s report, some of Santorum?s positions have prompted Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, to conclude, ?I can say with a great deal of confidence that Santorum?s relationship with HSUS is a deal killer for much of the agriculture community. As far as I can tell, he?d be comfortable with requiring regulations on agriculture?and large dog breeders are a part of this market?that would make it much less efficient to raise livestock.?

So, this begs the question for voters in Kansas: Is Santorum a candidate Kansans can trust and support to be the next president of the United States?

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