WASHINGTON, July 25, 2016 - The Agri-Pulse team is in Philadelphia for the kickoff of the Democratic National Convention. The big questions this week will be whether Bernie Sanders’ supporters will rally around Hillary Clinton, especially after she picked a relative moderate for her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
The convention got off to a rocky start yesterday with the resignation of the party’s chairman, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. She stepped down after emails were leaked showing how the party leadership had been working in favor of Clinton over Sanders. Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, will serve as party chair during this week’s convention.
Sanders will play a major part in setting the tone for the convention when he speaks tonight along with first lady Michelle Obama. Although Sanders has endorsed Clinton he'll have plenty of his supporters in the arena. Sanders has 1,893 committed delegates to Clinton’s 2,814, according to the Associated Press count.
This convention is likely to have a very different feel than the GOP event last week, which was very much the Trump family show. The Democratic convention will be heavy on celebrating the Clinton and Obama administrations. Former president Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker on Tuesday. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak on Wednesday.
Vilsack vet to manage Kaine campaign. Matt Paul, who served as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s communications director, will be chief of staff for Tim Kaine. Paul left USDA in 2015 to be Clinton’s state director in Iowa.
Platform pledges stronger rural/farm economy. One of the first orders of business for the convention will be to approve a platform that pledges to “protect and enhance family farms” and puts special emphasis on raising standards for farm labor. The platform specifically endorses the EPA’s new pesticide regulations for agricultural workers and calls for increased regulation of work hours, elimination of child labor and improved housing and sanitation.
The platform doesn’t get into any specifics about farm policy but pledges to expand local and regional markets and to support a “focused safety net” to help family operations that need assistance during “challenging times.” The GOP platform focused on criticism of Obama administration regulations and called for removing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the farm bill, an idea that the authors feel would make it easier to pass farm programs.
The Democratic platform, which puts a lot of emphasis on combating climate change, also endorses renewable fuels and calls for doubling loan guarantees for development of bio-based products.
Glickman: Don’t forget rural voters. Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman tells Agri-Pulse he hopes the Clinton campaign will make a serious run at winning over rural voters this year. “We can’t just capitulate in small towns and rural America. It’s not only important for the swing states (in the presidential race) but it could affect some legislative and congressional races.”
Glickman, who will be attending the convention, admits that the cultural issues still cut against Democrats with rural and small town voters. But he thinks that rural voters also may worry about what he calls the “unpredictability, instability and uncertainty” that a Trump presidency might bring. Glickman also says that Trump’s attacks on trade agreements could help with voters who see exports as critical for farm commodities and other goods.
As we reported last week from Cleveland, the Trump campaign is looking to run up big margins in rural areas and small towns in its bid to win states such as Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Pam Johnson, a former president of the National Corn Growers Association from Iowa, also will be in Philadelphia this week. She’s not a delegate, but she says she’s hoping the Clinton campaign will be talking about rural policy the way it did before the Iowa caucuses. Johnson participated in a small meeting with Clinton in the spring of 2015 and later accompanied the candidate when she visited the Iowa State Fair last August. “Since she (Clinton) rolled out her rural action plan last summer people may have forgotten all of the things she has done,” Johnson said.
Clinton’s plan included proposals to finance rural infrastructure and it called for fully funding the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Peterson planned to skip convention. The House Agriculture Committee’s top Democrat, Collin Peterson, told Agri-Pulse earlier this month that he planned to skip this week’s convention. His reason? He needs to get some cover crops planted on his land in Minnesota.
Peterson wasn’t clear on when the convention actually started. “I’m going to be planting cover crops when the convention is going on. First of August, right?” WhenAgri-Pulse pointed out that the convention started a week earlier, Peterson insisted that he would still be busy. “That’s when I’m planting my cover crops.”
Peterson, who is a super delegate, is committed to Sanders, because Peterson said his constituents favored the Vermont senator.

She said it: “We know there are problems in rural community and small towns and cities. She’s got a plan to address that.” - Pam Johnson, former president of the National Corn Growers Association, on Hillary Clinton.


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