ON THE ISSUES

Our Land

Farmers and ranchers are central to Idaho’s economy. In 2019, more than half of Idaho’s agriculture revenues, about $4.8 billion, came from milk and livestock, according to a University of Idaho analysis. But trade wars led to losses for many of Idaho’s farmers and ranchers.

Here’s the problem

Idaho agriculture industry is hanging by a thread

Here’s how I’ll lead differently on agriculture and land issues:

  • Idaho has a unique opportunity to become a national leader in the Ag-tech industry, and I have a blueprint to help us not only keep our agriculture economy booming, but to move it ahead. Our focus should shift dramatically to open doors to this economic development activity.

  • Funding and coordination of programs to focus attention on Idaho’s natural role as a leader in Ag-tech will produce high paying jobs, increased revenue, increased business generating activity in rural areas and support our love of land and soil. I have a successful track record in creating national coalitions and I look forward to leading this national effort and to make Idaho the shining example of success in Ag-tech.

As your Senator, I will work to protect our lands and our environment for future generations to come.
  • Risch is not awake to the issue of climate change, dismissing it as “secret science.” I am a nationally-recognized leader on environmental protection issues and will continue to lead the way in balanced policymaking for our future generations. I’ve worked hard for years, both in government and in the private sector, to protect our public lands, work toward proper management of our forests, and protect our national resources and wildlife in Idaho. Like many Idahoans, I was raised on the land and I realize how incredibly important it is to remain connected to it. I watched my family toil on the farm and I respect the Idaho families who do the same. We need leaders who respect our land and who are willing to combat corporate greed in order to address climate change. We need policy which both protects our environment and contributes to economic prosperity.

The backbone and pride of Idaho is our land.

Risch has completely failed our farmers, doing nothing about significant multi-year losses. Idaho’s agriculture industry, the backbone of our state economy, has quietly tanked as a result of retaliatory tariffs and poor trade deals.

Our own Senator Risch holds a top position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position where he had the power to prevent these gouges to Idaho farming, but instead, he swept things under the rug and has made farming dependent on federal USDA bailouts, which haven’t even begun to cover the losses our farmers suffered from U.S. trade wars with countries like Mexico and China.

If you don’t believe me, take it from Idaho agricultural leaders, who explained that “some Idaho farmers and dairies lost thousands of dollars a day,” despite the federal subsidies.

The CEO of the Idaho Dairyman Association, Rick Naerebout told the Idaho Statesman, “We don’t want to get USDA payments. We don’t want to get stuck in the middle of trade disputes. We want to stand on our own two feet and have the industry be successful on its own two merits, not based on politics.”

And it’s not just Idaho. The USDA Economic Research Service, reported that “the agriculture sector had record levels of debt in 2019 and the highest number of bankruptcies since 2011.” They also explained that Idaho agriculture is only surviving because it is dependent on U.S. government aid.

Risch’s policy has devastated Idaho’s agricultural economy and has made us dependent on federal aid.

It’s time to wake up and realize that Idaho farmers are suffering, and without better foreign policy, they stand to lose everything.

“40% of national farm income in 2019 will have come from federal programs including disaster assistance and insurance, raising concerns about the farm industry’s dependency on government aid. Federal government direct farm support payments are estimated to have increased over 60 percent (in inflation-adjusted terms) between 2018 and 2019, to $22.4 billion, more than triple the percentage increase between any other two years in the past decade. The biggest source of this is the Market Facilitation Program that increased by about 175 percent to $14.3 billion.”

Our so-called foreign policy leader is failing miserably and is covering up his mistakes by throwing money our country doesn’t have at Idaho farmers.

Instead of working on solutions, Senator Risch introduced legislation to stop almond milk and coconut milk from being called “milk.” He failed to advance the same effort in 2017. We don’t need silly PR stunts about almond milk. We need a Senator who actually cares about Idaho agriculture. We need farmer-focused policy that creates revenue for Idahoans.

Risch must be called to account not only for what he does, but for what he has failed to do. The failure to lead also has consequences.