We think a forum televised by Iowa Public Television last week can rightly serve as the beginning of the campaign for the farm vote by the candidates for president.
The 90-minute forum, televised live Sept. 12 from the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, featured surrogates extolling the farm and rural policies of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Standing in for the president, former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge cited the administration's investments in rural America through farm and conservation programs, providing high-speed Internet service and increasing marketing opportunities. She said farmers and ranchers could expect a continuation of the president's policies that have helped agriculture become one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns, speaking for Romney, said electing Romney would ensure safeguards against dozens of new regulations that agencies may be preparing for after the election.
He called Obama "anti-agriculture" for entertaining regulations on farm dust and dairies' milk spills as well as his embrace of cap-and-trade legislation and health care reform.
So, the battle for rural America is joined.
In the coming weeks the Capital Press will explore each candidate's position on farm and ranch issues in detail on our news pages. At the appropriate time, we will advance our own opinion on who we think would do a better job for rural America and the country at large.
Until then, we encourage our readers to watch the forum online, to read all available news stories, and carefully evaluate material posted by each campaign.
In the end, your choice is between a president whose record, policies and politics you know, and a challenger who promises something very different.
Watch the forum: