Agricultural and rural issues on center stage during gubernatorial “Measure the Candidates” forumPosted on Jul 23, 2015
Conway (D) and Bevin (R) fielded questions from the KFB leaders and explained their positions during the two-hour meeting at the farm organization’s state office. KFB President Mark Haney said the meeting gave the organization’s leadership and all Kentuckians an opportunity to gauge the differences between the two on key issues.
“Although we do not endorse candidates, we inform our members as to where candidates stand on our key issues,” Haney said during his opening remarks. “This continues a long tradition that started back in the 1940s. It’s a very effective forum we started and have used for candidates at all levels.”
The Pulaski County farmer moderated the forum, which often got testy as the candidates exchanged criticisms. Under the forum’s guidelines the candidates gave opening and closing statements and fielded questions on the topics of the state’s agricultural development fund, rural economic development, agricultural appropriations, fiscal affairs, environmental and regulatory policy, rural infrastructure, education, insurance, and water management issues.
Both men opened with pitches to appeal to the group of farmers from throughout the state. Conway quickly noted: “I’m one generation removed from a family farm in Union County.” Bevin then began by telling of his involvement with 4-H as a youth.
There was much good news for the KFB leaders as Conway and Bevin agreed on most of the organization’s key positions such as maintaining the funding levels for the agricultural development and rural road funds, protecting the state’s property tax law, fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to expand regulatory authority on farms, supporting adequate funding for the state agriculture department and colleges of agriculture and expanding broadband access in rural areas.
The candidates also praised KFB’s current effort to develop recommendations for enhancing water resources for farmers and rural communities, pledging that they would cooperate with the project.
But not all was calm. Both candidates were on the offensive throughout the forum and into the press conferences following the event, questioning each other’s stances on everything from rural development programs and federal farm policy to health care and taxes.
Bevin left the forum posing the question: “If you have to leave your farm to one of the two of us, who would you leave it to?”
Conway, by virtue of a coin toss, had the last word. After citing a list of accomplishments on agriculture and other issues during his two terms as Attorney General, he concluded, “I have a record of putting Kentucky first.”
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