The agricultural industry will fare better under Democrat Barack Obama as President of the United States than it would under John McCain, says Democratic counsel to the Texas Produce Association Marshall Matz.

Matz, with the firm of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, Bode, Matz, P.C., provided the Democratic perspective on the presidential election to the recent Texas Produce Convention in McAllen.

“The produce industry is stronger because of Democrats,” Matz said. He agreed with his Republican counterpart on the podium, Tom Sell, of Combest, Sell and Associates, that agriculture requires bipartisan support to maintain strong farm programs.

“We're all Americans first,” he said. “And we all now face a tough economic situation, a tough international situation and we need a different way of thinking.”

He said the disappearance of the Democrat's balanced budget “is frustrating. We had a $300 billion surplus and we now have a $500 billion deficit and that's probably understated. It's probably up to $1 trillion now.”

Matz said Obama expressed support for agriculture and ethanol in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.

“We have far and away the best farm bill for producers. McCain would have vetoed it. We have better policy for both nutrition and agriculture.”

He said agriculture research has been a target of the Bush administration. “The president proposed to cut agricultural research and McCain refers to it as a ëboondoggle.”

Matz said agriculture “has one helluva challenge coming up. Over the next 50 years we have to produce more food to feed the planet than has been produced in the last 10,000 years cumulatively. We must have effective agriculture research.”

Trade will be a critical issue for the next president. Matz said President Bush may use trade talks to come up with a legacy. “But I don't think we'll see Congress going back to the table and passing a trade agreement this year. Trade is central to the U.S. economy and agriculture. We export 50 percent of our wheat crop and nearly that much corn and beans.”

He said trade issues will be tough. “But we can't avoid an issue just because it's difficult. But it is critical that agriculture doesn't get traded away.”

He said Obama “is deeply committed to agriculture,” and quoted an excerpt from an Obama letter to Farm Bureau presidents. The letter stated: “I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predisposition of agency officials or political appointees ö My administration will take into consideration the economic consequences of our decisions.”

Matz said the Democrat's approach to problems “will be more pragmatic.”