Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill campaigned in Willard, Missouri Friday in search of rural votes by calling for a crackdown on factory farm growth and the implementation of a country of origin labeling program.
She said taking these steps will help small, independent farmers, who are losing profits because of increased consolidation in the corporate farm market. Taking aim at Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), McCaskill called for more local control and oversight of the factory farms to curb their growth. The President of the Greene County Farm Bureau, Charles Buckner, opposes McCaskill's local control approach.
McCaskill also took aim at Senator Jim Talent on two other issues - Country of Origin Labeling and Animal Identification . . .
She questioned why country of origin labeling hasn't yet been implemented, even though it was included in the 2002 farm bill. "Senator Talent said he was for it when he was running. He's in charge of the subcommittee that actually regulates it," McCaskill said. Right now Americans have no idea where their beef is coming from, McCaskill said. She again blamed the influence of big corporate farms, and zapped Talent for not standing up to them. "Senator Talent is the largest recipient of corporate farm contributions in the U.S.A," McCaskill said.
She also came out against a mandatory program that would require farmers to use a tracking system to identify their livestock. She said big corporate farms want it because it will cost independent producers and push them out of the business. "When Senator Talent ran for Senate he said he was opposed to mandatory animal I.D. Not anymore," McCaskill said.
Talent's campaign spokesman Rich Chrismer said that the junior Senator has worked on both a voluntary animal I.D. program and a voluntary country of origin labeling program.
McCaskill also takes on Republicans and the issue of taxes in her farm plan. She favors exempting family farms from the estate tax. "We can exempt family farmers in the estate tax. That's not the problem," McCaskill said. "I say let's get it done. Let's get it over with and quit using family farmers as your poster child for taking care of the very, very wealthy with your tax policy while your policies are also driving the family farmer out of business and making sure our sons and daughters that want to come back from the farm can't."