Republican Party Platform of 1984

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Agriculture

Securing a Prosperous Rural America

The Republican Party is thankful for, and proud of, the ability of American farmers and ranchers to provide abundant, high quality, and nutritious food and fiber for all our citizens and millions more throughout the world. This unmatched ability to produce is basic to this country’s high standard of living. We recognize that a prosperous agriculture is essential to the future of America and to the health and welfare of its people. We have set the stage for securing prosperity in rural America. In 1979, farm and ranch production costs increased 19 percent, in 1983 they actually declined by almost 3 percent. The prime interest rate has been brought down from 21.5 percent to 13 percent. Our reputation as a reliable world food and fiber supplier has been restored. Despite that remarkable beginning, much remains to be done.

We believe well managed, efficient American farm and ranch operations are the most cost-effective and productive food and fiber suppliers in the world, and therefore have the inherent economic capability and right to make a profit from their labor, management, and investments. The primary responsibility of government with respect to agriculture is to create the opportunity for a free and competitive economic and policy environment supportive of the American farmers’ and ranchers’ industrious and independent spirit and innovative talent. We further believe that, to the extent some well-managed and efficient farms and ranches are temporarily unable to make a profit in the marketplace, it is in the public interest to provide reasonable and targeted assistance.

The Carter-Mondale Administration, and 28 years of a Congress rigidly controlled by the Democrats and out of touch with the people, brought farmers and ranchers to the hardest times since the Great Depression. Farm and ranch incomes fell to disastrous levels. Uncontrolled inflation and the highest interest rates in over a century prevented farmers from operating at a profit, and 300,000 of them went out of business under Carter-Mondale.

In the span of but four devastating years, the Carter-Mondale Administration managed to jeopardize this country’s agricultural heritage by [p.13] putting America’s farmers $78 billion further in debt (a 75 percent increase) and inflating farmers’ annual food and fiber production costs by $46 billion (55 percent increase). These irresponsible inflationary policies led to spiraling land values and to the illusion of enhanced debt-bearing wealth. This paper wealth was converted into very real and unavoidable debt. Debt payments, combined with record cost of production levels, have presented many farmers and ranchers with severe cash flow problems. On top of all that came the Carter-Mondale grain embargo of 1980. Thus, one begins to understand the origins of the financial stress farmers and ranchers are experiencing today. Adding insult to injury, farmers and ranchers found themselves blamed as Carter-Mondale inflation ballooned consumer food costs by $115 billion, a 50 percent increase in four years.

Republicans support a sound agricultural credit policy, including the Farm Credit System, to meet agriculture’s expanded credit needs. We support an extensive examination of agricultural and rural credit and crop insurance programs to assure they are adequately serving our farmers and rural residents.

Interest Rates and Farm and Ranch Indebtedness

The magnitude of indebtedness and the level of interest rates significantly influence farm and ranch profitability. The interrelationship between high interest rates and the high value of the dollar has caused an erosion in our competitive position in export markets. Republicans recognize that lower interest rates are vital to a healthy farm and ranch economy and pledge that an economic priority of the first order will be the further lowering of interest rates by intensifying our efforts to cut federal spending to achieve a balanced budget and by reforming Federal Reserve policy.

Republicans are very much aware of the devastating impact which high interest rates have had, and continue to have, on the viability of America’s farmers and ranchers. We also realize that, unless interest rates decline significantly in the near future, the character of American agriculture and rural life will be tragically changed. For these reasons, we pledge to pursue every possible course of action, including the consideration of temporary interest rate reductions, to ensure that the American farmer or rancher is not a patient that dies in the course of a successful economic operation.

Republicans are cognizant that there are many well-managed, efficient, farm and ranch operations which face bankruptcy and foreclosure. The foreclosures and resulting land sales will jeopardize the equity positions of neighboring farms and ranches, compounding financial problems [p.14] in agriculture. Republicans pledge to implement comprehensive Farmers Home Administration and commercial farm and ranch debt restructuring procedures, including the establishment of local community farm and ranch finance committees, which will advise borrowers, lenders, and government officials regarding debt restructuring alternatives and farmer and rancher eligibility.

Setting the Stage for Farm and Ranch Recovery

Sensitive to the needs of farmers and ranchers, we have made the best of the tools available to deal with the Carter-Mondale failure. Among the many specific accomplishments of the Reagan Administration in agriculture, Republicans are proud to have:

• Lifted the Carter-Mondale grain embargo and demonstrated by word and deed that farm and ranch product embargoes will not be used as a tool of foreign policy, negotiated a long term agreement with the Soviet Union, and strengthened our credibility as a reliable supplier by enacting contract sanctity legislation.

• Increased food assistance and agricultural export financing programs to over $7 billion, a record level.

• Challenged unfair export subsidy practices and aggressively countered them with "blended credit" and other export expansion programs.

• Achieved major breakthroughs in Japan’s beef and citrus quotas, allowing our exports to double over four years.

• Resisted protectionist efforts by other industries, such as domestic content legislation, that would cause a backlash against U.S. farm and ranch exports.

• Developed and implemented the PIK program to draw down burdensome reserve stocks of major commodities created by the Carter-Mondale embargo.

• Reformed bankruptcy law to provide for accelerated distribution of farm products in bankrupt elevators, acceptance of warehouse receipts and scale tickets as proof of ownership, and allowing a lien against elevator assets for unpaid farmers.

• Eliminated the marriage tax penalty for a surviving spouse and protected family farms and ranches by exempting, by 1987, up to $600,000 from estate taxes.

• [p.15] Accelerated depreciation of farm and ranch equipment and buildings and increased the exemption for agricultural vehicles from the heavy vehicle use tax.

• Increased the gasoline tax exemption by 50 percent for alcohol fuels, stimulating demand for domestic grain production and reducing dependency on foreign oil.

• Worked with rural credit and farm and ranch lending institutions to assure adequate capital at the lowest possible interest rates.

• Responded to the emergency financial needs of farmers and ranchers stricken by drought and flood.

We want real profits for farmers and ranchers. We have begun the turnaround on farm and ranch incomes. Sound fiscal, monetary, and growth-oriented tax policies are essential if farmers and ranchers are to realize sufficient and enduring profits. We support legislation to permit farmers, ranchers, and other self-employed individuals to deduct from their gross income up to one-half of the cost of their personal hospitalization insurance premiums.

Government policies should strengthen the ability of farmers and ranchers to provide quality products at reasonable rates of return in an expanding economy. We believe that federal farm programs should be tailored to meet the economic needs and requirements of today’s structurally diverse and internationally oriented agriculture. These programs must be sensitive to potential impacts on all agriculture, especially non-program commodities, livestock, agribusiness, and rural communities.

Republicans believe that the future of American agriculture lies in the utilization of our rich farmland, advanced technology, and hard working farm and ranch people, to supply food and fiber to the world. Traditional farm programs have threatened the confidence of America’s farmers and ranchers and exhausted the patience of American taxpayers. We reject the policy of more of the same, and we further reject the Democrats’ public utility vision of agriculture which views it as a problem to be minimized by further political and bureaucratic management. Our new programs will bring the flexibility to adjust to rapidly changing export market conditions and opportunities, and, in a timely and effective manner, respond to the inherent, uncontrollable risks of farming and ranching.

Rural Americans impart a special strength to our national character, important to us all. Whether farmers or not, all rural citizens should have the same consideration as those who live in towns and cities in economic [p.16] development, energy, credit, transportation availability, and employment. Opportunities for non-farm jobs have become increasingly important to farm and ranch families, enhancing life and work in rural America.

Toward Fair and Expanded Markets and Responding to Hunger

Agriculture is an international advantage for the United States. But a successful farm and ranch policy demands earnest attention to building on the strength of our domestic production capacity and to developing world markets, for American agriculture cannot be prosperous without exports.

Our farmers and ranchers must have full access to world markets and should not have to face unfair export subsidies and predatory dumping by other producing nations without redress. Republicans believe that unfair trade practices and non-tariff barriers are so serious that a comprehensive renegotiation of multilateral trade arrangements must be undertaken to revitalize the free, fair, and open trade critical to worldwide economic growth.

The Republican Party is unalterably opposed to the use of embargoes of grain or other agricultural products as a tool of foreign policy. The Carter-Mondale grain embargo is—still more than any other factor—the cause of the present difficulties in American agriculture and possibly the irretrievable loss of foreign markets. Republicans say, "Never again." The Democratic Platform says nothing.

America has a long history of helping those in need, and the responsibility for food assistance has been shared by federal and State governments and neighborhood volunteers. Federal expenditures in this area exceeded $19 billion in 1983, the highest amount ever. Numerous private and public efforts assure that adequate food is available. This expresses faith in our future and reflects our people’s goodness.

We will provide adequate resources in programs ranging from food stamps to school lunches for the truly needy. We also recognize that fraud and abuse must be eliminated from those programs. We stress maximum local control consistent with national objectives.

Reducing Excessive Regulation in Agriculture

Excessive federal regulations, many imposed by the Carter-Mondale Administration, have been a crushing burden.

In 1980, we pledged to make sensible reductions in regulations that drained the profitability from farming, ranching, and commercial fishing. We did just that. We restored balance to the Interior Department’s [p.17] ineffective predator-control policies, and we moderated the EPA’s and the FDA’s excessive adherence to "zero risk" standards concerning the use of pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, and preservatives.

Republicans favor modernizing our food-safety laws, providing guidelines for risk-benefit assessment, peer review, and regulatory flexibility consistent with other health and safety policies.

Soil and Water Conservation

Agriculture must be both economically and environmentally sustainable. The soil and water stewardship of our farmers, ranchers, watermen, and rural people is commendable. Republicans believe that long-term soil, water, and other conservation policies, emphasizing environmentally sound agricultural productivity, rangeland protection, fish and wildlife habitat, and balanced forestry management, must be a top priority. Conservation practices must be intensified and integrated with farm programs to safeguard our most valuable resources. Volunteer participation, emphasizing State and local control and adequate incentives, is essential to effective conservation.

Water Policy

In 1980, we pledged a water policy which addressed our national diversity in climate, geography, reclamation needs, and patterns of land ownership. We promised a partnership between the States and federal government which would not destroy traditional State supremacy in water law, and which would avert a water crisis in the coming decades. That partnership is now working to meet these challenges.

The Future of Farming

American agriculture is the world’s most successful because of the hard work and creativity of family farmers and ranchers. They have benefitted immensely from agricultural research, extension, and teaching, unequalled in the world. Cooperative extension, operating in every country, brings the results of USDA and Land Grant University research to rural America. We support these programs, with special attention to marketing efficiencies, reduced production costs, and new uses for farm and ranch commodities. We also encourage the establishment of regional international research and export trade centers.

Our agricultural people have developed the ideals of free enterprise and have based their enterprise on our culture’s basic element, the family. The family farm and ranch is defined as a unit of agricultural production [p.18] managed as an enterprise where labor and management have an equity interest in the business and a direct gain or loss from its operation. Family farms and ranches are the heart, soul, and backbone of American agriculture; it is the family farm that makes our system work better than any other.

Our rural and coastal people developed a great diversity of support organizations. They organized farm and ranch cooperatives, and rural electric and telephone cooperatives to provide essential services. They established farm and ranch organizations to work for better farm policies and to improve the quality of rural life. Republicans note with particular pride and enthusiasm the vital impact women have always had in American farming and ranching, and we support efforts to increase their role.

American agriculture has always relied upon the hardworking people who harvest seasonal and perishable crops. Republicans support comprehensive farm-labor legislation, fair to workers and employers, to protect consumers from work stoppages which disrupt the flow of food.

Republicans also recognize the tremendous efforts of commercial fishers to bring nutritious seafood products to market, thus strengthening America’s food base.

Our agriculture is both a global resource and a tremendous opportunity. Only America possesses the natural, technological, management, and labor resources to commercially develop agriculture’s next frontier.

We are encouraged by innovation in agriculture, and applaud its diversity, creativity, and enterprise. Commercial applications of new technology and marketing and management innovations are creating additional opportunities for farming and ranching. Republicans have set the stage for building a new prosperity into our fundamentally strong agricultural system. We renew our national commitment to American farmers and ranchers.

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Chicago: "Agriculture," Republican Party Platform of 1984 in Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1984, Pp.12-18 Original Sources, accessed August 10, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRX12LGQTBYNH1.

MLA: . "Agriculture." Republican Party Platform of 1984, in Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1984, Pp.12-18, Original Sources. 10 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRX12LGQTBYNH1.

Harvard: , 'Agriculture' in Republican Party Platform of 1984. cited in , Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1984, Pp.12-18. Original Sources, retrieved 10 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRX12LGQTBYNH1.