(From Claire McCaskill)
Today, Claire McCaskill held a conference call with reporters about the immediate need for Congress to return to the table of compromise and pass the Farm Bill to strengthen Missouri’s top industry, cut the federal deficit, and protect our drought-stricken farmers, ranchers and rural families.
Claire spelled out the choice Missouri voters face in this election between her record of seeking compromise solutions, as evidenced by her work on the Farm Bill, and her opponents’ allegiance to the extreme Tea Party whose stonewalling now threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Missouri farmers and producers.
"This is a crisis for our state because of the importance of agriculture to our economy," McCaskill said. "There are thousands of Missouri families that are very worried right now about whether or not they are going to be able to make their payments, whether or not they are going to get their crops, whether or not they are going to be able to meet their obligations because of this cruel hand that has been dealt by mother nature this year. The Farm Bill is essential in so many ways for Missouri agriculture. I'm proud of the version of the Farm Bill that passed the United States Senate because it worked on many levels.
"For every day that passes, right now, we put many farmers in Missouri who produce cattle and all of them are being caught in the efforts of a very, very, extreme group of folks who basically want to shut down the government, and in the process our livestock producers in Missouri are really going to get hurt. That's why I have a sense of urgency about this. These programs are essential for them at this time of crisis and we need to get them done."
All three of Claire’s opponents running for the U.S. Senate would have opposed the Farm Bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate with bipartisan support last month. Sarah Steelman and Todd Akin have been forthright in their explicit opposition to the crucial legislation, while John Brunner has repeatedly dodged the question of how he would have voted, afraid of the political consequences he’d face in rural Missouri for admitting he’d have voted to block the Farm Bill, along with his Tea Party mentors.
"I am disappointed in my opponents, in that two of my opponents that are running have said they will vote no on the Farm Bill," McCaskill said. "It makes me believe that they don't understand agriculture in Missouri, and what is needed. I think particularly when you realize this was a bipartisan bill with a great deal of support from the Republican Party, as it relates to deficit reduction, and it is a responsible balanced way to move forward on farm policy. Maybe more disappointing is the fact that two of my potential opponents would vote no on the Farm Bill, is that the third one does not have the courage to take a position on the Farm Bill. That goes under the category of trying to be all things to all people. I don't think he knows Missouri farmers very well. They don't take to folks who try to hide behind the barn. They want candidates that will take a position and they will respect you even if they disagree with you. But they are not going to respect you if you hide."
Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman and John Brunner have each repeatedly cited as mentors and endorsers the kind of Tea Party politicians that opposed the Farm Bill in the Senate and are now stonewalling the legislation in the House of Representatives.
Claire was joined on the call by Stanton Thompson, a Missouri cattleman and corn grower from Lafayette County, who spoke first-hand about the drought’s impact and the need for passing critical Farm Bill programs to provide farmers and producers with long-term stability.
Current Farm Bill programs will expire on September 30 unless the House can overcome Tea Party-led gridlock and pass a bill that can be reconciled with the Senate’s compromise version. The new Farm Bill contains crucial disaster assistance programs for producers facing crippling drought conditions across 96 percent of Missouri.