By Capital Press
The Capital Press submitted a questionnaire to the GOP presidential candidates seeking their views on issues important to farmers and ranchers.
What follows are the answers given by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Q: What farm programs and policies do you support?
A: My long-term goal is to eliminate all farm programs. These programs are unconstitutional and distort the agricultural market by getting government involved in the process of picking winners and losers. Farm subsidies also contribute to the dominance of American agriculture by large agri-business, as larger, politically powerful farms often receive the majority of subsidies.
However, I do not support immediately eliminating these programs. Instead, federal support should be reduced over a period of time in order to give farmers time to transition to a free market. My "Plan to Restore America" begins the process of winding down the government's involvement in agriculture by rolling back the Department of Agriculture budget to Fiscal Year 2006 levels.
If the federal government pursued a policy of free trade, low taxes, and respect for property rights, American farmers would not need federal subsidies.
Q: Do you support direct commodity subsidy payments? If not, what would you put in their place?
A: I do not support direct subsidy payments, as indicted in my answer above. I would replace them with a program of low taxes and less regulation for all farmers.
Q: Do you support subsidies for ethanol production?
A: I do not support government subsidies for any industry, including ethanol. However, tax credits are not subsidies. Instead, tax credits are a means of allowing people to keep more of their own money. Therefore, I would only support eliminating the ethanol tax credit if it were part of a larger tax reform plan that provided greater tax relief to all Americans.
Q: What policies do you support to ensure an adequate farm labor supply?
A: Agriculture is a major business in my congressional district, which is also near the US-Mexican border. Therefore, I am obviously aware of the need for reform to our immigration system to ensure the agriculture industry has access to a reliable and legal workforce. I will also support the repeal of any regulation that limits the ability of young people to gain valuable experience by working in agriculture. As a Congressman, I am involved in the efforts to get the Department of Labor to withdraw its misguided proposal to impose new regulations on youth agricultural labor.
Q: What is your policy on immigration?
A: I believe that America must secure its borders by devoting more resources to border security. I oppose providing those who entered this country illegally with welfare benefits, and I also oppose mass amnesty.
However, I also oppose mass deportations, the border fence, militarizing the border by placing troops on the border, as well as proposals that will violate our civil liberties, such as e-verify and the national ID card.
I support streamlining the immigration process to allow those who wish to legally come here to work and build a better life for themselves and their families.
Q: Do you support reform in the H-2A visa program?
A: Yes, there should be more H-2A visas available, and they should be made easier to obtain. My congressional district has worked with many businesses and individuals who are having problems with our needlessly complex and bureaucratic immigration system.
Q: What is your position on federal estate and income taxes?
A: The estate tax is an immoral tax that seeks to plunder your property after you're gone and after government has spent a lifetime already picking your pocket. I believe this tax should be permanently repealed so families can keep what is rightfully theirs. In regards to the income tax, I will fight to make it as low as possible for everyone as I work to ultimately repeal the 16th Amendment and shut down the IRS. Americans deserve to keep the money they have worked hard to earn so they can take care of themselves and their families.
Q: What is your position on the balance between environmental regulation and farming and ranching interests?
A: Over-reaching federal regulations are an ineffective way to protect the environment. Therefore, I support returning to the common-law principles of holding those who pollute the environment strictly accountable for any damage done to others' persons or property. This system would only punish bad actors while avoiding subjecting those who do not harm the environment to needless and costly regulations. It also provides incentives for businesses and property owners to take actions themselves to make sure they are minimizing any environmental damage from their activities.
Q: Do you support reforms to the Endangered Species Act?
A: Yes. Ideally, the Endangered Species Act should be repealed. Although enacted with good intentions, this law is unconstitutional, and its primary effect has been to provide another excuse for federal bureaucrats to assault private property. Furthermore, the act actually creates disincentives for property owners to protect endangered species on their lands, since if they do protect the species, they run the risk of having the federal government seize control of their property.
Q: What is your position on grazing on public lands?
A: My priority is to reduce the number of lands owned by the government and to allow state governments, local communities, and private property owners to decide how much grazing should occur on their lands.
Describe how you would increase trade opportunities for American farmers and ranchers.
I would open up new markets for American agriculture by ending all embargoes, beginning with the Cuban embargo. It makes no sense to deny American farmers the opportunity to sell their products to a market 90 miles away from the US border. The embargo also strengthens the Castro regime by serving as a scapegoat for Cuba's economic problems. Ending the embargo will weaken the Castro regime and benefit America's farmers and the Cuban people.