Farm Economy May Help Obama, Vilsack Says

USDA Photo by Rebecca Moat

According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the farm economy could prove to be a major factor in the upcoming presidential election, particularly in key Midwestern states.

Over the last several months, agriculture has been a major topic among beltway insiders. In part, the upcoming farm bill debates have helped spur discussion of farm policy and the agricultural economy. With Congress ready to determine the shape and scale of federal farm policy for the next five years, it is hardly surprising that farmers are taking center stage in American politics.

In addition, the farm economy itself has been a major part of the American political discourse. In the midst of one of the worst recessions in recent American history, agriculture has remained an important economic bright spot. Agricultural exports remain high and farm incomes recently reached record highs thanks to increased demand and rising land value.

This booming farm economy, Vilsack hopes, could help swing the presidential election. According to Vilsack, President Barack Obama can take credit for part of the strong farm economy given his focus on increasing farm exports, particularly commodity exports. The farm economy, Vilsack claimed, has helped boost the larger Midwestern economy. Midwestern manufacturing, for example, has increased 14 percent, largely a measure of the increased purchasing power of farmers.

The respective economies of these Midwestern states may prove to be vitally important in determining the election. Several critical swing states, including Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri, are part of the Corn Belt, a region characterized by high corn production, level land, a deep, fertile soil. The combined Electoral College strength of these states (with 60 total votes) is more than enough to swing the election in either direction.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer