Romney lays out agriculture plan, pledges to support American farmers

VAN METER, Iowa - Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pledged to support American farmers Tuesday in a speech heavily tailored toward his rural audience, while scolding the President for focusing on trivial matters.

"These are tough times with real serious issues," Romney told a crowd of about 500 who braved the blustery and chilly temperatures. "So you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about Big Bird."

"I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future," he continued.

Speaking on a picturesque family-owned farm in Madison County, Romney promised to act as a bridge between rural America and lawmakers in Washington -- lessening regulations, lowering taxes, and increasing trade opportunities abroad.

He highlighted his plan North American energy independence through opening up more federal lands to drilling, which, he said, would result in lower fuel and fertilizer costs. However, Romney made no mention of wind energy credits, a popular subsidy in Iowa that provides thousands of jobs, which he has vowed to let expire.

Romney also waded into a Congressional battle over the farm bill, slamming the President for failing to provide leadership in pushing through a new bill. The 2008 agreement expired Oct. 1.

"People have been waiting a long time for a farm bill," Romney said, before promising to work with Congressional leaders to pass a new one.

But he made no mention of why the bill is stalled in the first place. The Senate passed a 5-year extension in August, but GOP leaders in the House benched a vote on the bill until after the election.