Senate candidate Roy Blunt speaks with farmers near Jackson

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt speaks to a gathering Monday on the Larry Bock farm near Jackson. Blunt, a Springfield Republican, is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kit Bond. Bock is seated left, foreground. (Fred Lynch)

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt heard an unusual request Monday as he stopped at a farm near Jackson during his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Roger Schwab, a farmer who grows crops on 1,600 acres, said it was time to cut spending at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We all like our little pet projects," Schwab told Blunt, a Republican seeking the GOP nomination in the Aug. 3 primary. But the USDA has "so many programs you don't know what to sign up for. There are too many programs, even those silly direct payments," he said.

Blunt, a former House Republican whip, visited the farm owned by former Cape Girardeau County commissioner Larry Bock. He gave a short talk to about a dozen farmers and took part in a discussion of issues that included energy policy, health care, taxes and the federal deficit.

Keeping government spending down is an almost impossible task in Washington, Blunt said. In late 2005 and early 2006, he said, he worked on a bill to reduce spending on entitlement programs by $40 billion. His office did not receive a single call from anyone who supported the cuts, said Blunt, who represents southwest Missouri's 7th Congressional District.

"Government is the last place in America that judges how much it cares about something by how much it spends," Blunt said in an interview after the discussion.

Farmers are worried about an energy bill called cap-and-trade that would impose new controls on carbon emissions. Missouri, as a state heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation, would bear the brunt of the bill and farmers would be especially hard hit because of the need to fuel farm machinery and pay for petroleum-based fertilizers, Blunt said.

The focus of federal energy policy, Blunt said, should be finding additional sources of fuels in the United States, increasing conservation measures and supporting alternative energy to spur development of wind, solar and nuclear power. The result would be a stronger, more secure nation with a bigger jobs base, Blunt said.

"It is really not smart to buy things from people who don't like you," he said of Middle Eastern oil suppliers. "And it is really foolish to buy things from other economies when you don't have to."

On health care, Blunt repeated an earlier call to repeal the insurance overhaul legislation passed earlier this year. While parts of it may have merit, he said, the entire package should be scrapped.

"It doesn't matter if there is anything good in there," he said. "Rip it up by its roots. If it is good, it will sprout up again."

Blunt, a former Missouri secretary of state who has been in politics for almost 40 years, faces eight opponents in the Aug. 3 primary, with the best-known challenger being state Sen. Chuck Purgason of Caulfield. He is expected to face Secretary of State Robin Carnahan in November.

Elections this year, especially in the Republican Party, are expected to be heavily influenced by the tea party movement that has galvanized anger at Washington policies and insider politics. The tea party movement, Blunt said, has been good for the country because it means people are paying attention to their government.

"I have never seen people as engaged in issues as they are this year," he said.


Pertinent address:

2752 County Road 324, Jackson, MO

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