On Friday leaders of the McCain-Palin 2008 Farm & Ranch Committee held a telephone press conference to challenge statements about agriculture made by Barack Obama to Time magazine.
"I think he really doesn't understand agriculture," said Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "I'm asking people to think twice if they are in agriculture about voting for Senator Obama."
The quote in question, which was published recently in Time started as a question about U.S. energy policy, and in his answer Obama made the following comments:
"I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board."
Says Missouri Governor Matt Blunt: "I think this shows a real lack of understanting and a lack of judgement. Barack Obama specifically cited this idea that American farmers are responsible for global warming arguing that American agriculture produced more greenhouse gases than American transportation. That's just not true, that is a statement that is not factual."
Blunt said that he thinks Obama says one thing in one place and the exact opposite somewhere else depending on who he percieves his audience is.
Charlie Kruse, Missouri Farm Bureau president and co-chair of the McCain-Palin 2008 Farm and Ranch Committee, is troubled by the statements and also offended by them.
"Senator Obama seems to suggest that agriculture is responsible for everything from diabetes to obesity to heart diesease," Kruse said. "Another troubling part of this is he tries to connect all of this it seems to me to our use of fossil fuels in agriculture. That right there tells me he doesn't have an understanding of agriculture."
Kruse said that he believes practically every clear thinking person in this country knows and understands that we are the best fed and best clothed country in the history of the world because of the hard work of farmers and ranchers.
"I'm not interested in an explanation from Senator Obama about why he made these comments. I would just say it is a concern and quite frankly it is frightening that he would say these things in the first place," Kruse said. "I don't want a person like this representing me as President of the United States. One of the many things that impresses me about Senator John McCain, is he'll tell you what he thinks and he'll say the same thing in a small community of 200 people in the Heartland that he says in New York City and Los Angeles."