In 'Moving America Forward', Dems vow to oppose GOP cuts to rural programs...
UPDATE: Sec. Vilsack speaks at the Convention
By Jerry Hagstrom, Founding Editor, The Hagstrom Report
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama and the Democratic party are committed to providing a safety net for farms of all sizes and will oppose Republican budget cuts on rural programs, according to the platform released today by the Democratic National Committee here, titled "Moving America Forward."
“Democrats support agriculture from the small farms that feed the community to the large farms that feed the world,” the platform says in a statement that seems intended to counter Republican criticism that the Agriculture Department has devoted too much attention to small local and organic farms.
“Our vision for rural America stands in stark contrast to our opponents’,” the platform continues.
“Republicans in Congress have introduced a budget that would gut rural economic programs that invest in education, clean energy, infrastructure, and health care, undermining job growth and economic development in rural America. They would severely weaken the farm safety net for family farmers in times of natural disaster and economic hardship.”
The platform does not mention the pending Farm Bill, but says “Democrats will strengthen the American farm safety net by renewing crop disaster relief, maintaining strong crop insurance programs, and creating a permanent disaster relief program.”
The platform also notes that “U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history” and says, “We have made historic investments in renewable fuels and expanded markets for them.”
The platform also claims credit for expanding broadband access to 7 million Americans, improving rural water and sewer infrastructure and increasing rural Americans’ access to health care.
The platform does not appear to deal with the issue of Food Stamps directly, but notes that “Fifteen percent of our fellow citizens live in poverty, and one in five families struggles with food insecurity.”
A record number of Americans are now on Food Stamps, with USDA's newly posted data for the month of June noting 46.6 million Americans using the nutrition safety net. Both the House and Senate have called for budget cuts to the program in versions of the 2012 Farm Bill legislation.
Democrats believe that the minimum wage must be raised and indexed to inflation, the platform says, adding that “we face an opposition that has proven its priorities are elsewhere.”
“Mitt Romney would raise taxes on low- and middle-income Americans to fund his tax breaks weighted toward the wealthiest,” the platform says.
“We reject the Republican budget plan that would force us to destroy the safety net in order to help the wealthiest avoid doing their fair share.”
The platform also contains a section noting the party’s commitment to another key rural constituency, Native Americans. That section says that Obama and congressional Democrats “have taken unprecedented steps to resolve long-standing conflicts, finally coming to a resolution on litigation – some dating back nearly 100 years – related to management of Indian trust resources, administration of loan programs, and water rights.”
The section also says that the Affordable Health Care Act will improve health care for native Americans and that the Violence Against Women Act will great greater protection for women on tribal lands.
*Download Moving America Forward [PDF]
Related: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak at the Convention on Wednesday.
Jerry Hagstrom, founder and editor of the online, subscription-only The Hagstrom Report, will be reporting from Charlotte this week, with cross-posting here at Obama Foodorama.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House