Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What does Senator Craig arrest scandal have to do with agriculture?

Regular readers to the Capital Press website may have noticed a story that looks like it doesn't belong on an agriculture newspaper website. And maybe it doesn't.

And that's the story about Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's recent arrest and guilty plea on a charge of disorderly conduct. The arrest happened in June when police were investigating reports of lewd behavior in a men's room in a Minnesota airport.

It's become the political scandal of the week in Washington, D.C., and today members of Craig's own Republican Party were lining up to call for his resignation.

It's a political story. It's political gossip. But there is no agriculture angle to the story, is there?

Yes, there is.

Craig is a rancher. He's a senator from the state known for its agriculture and it's "Famous Potatoes" slogan that's everywhere, including the state's license plates. Recently Craig has been critical of federal grazing policy, environmentalist and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and environmental limits which he believes have contributed to large wildfires in Idaho and the West because cattle haven't been allowed to graze reseeded grasslands (click here to see a speech Craig made on this issue.

And he is the co-author of a bill which many in agriculture want to see attached to the 2007 Farm Bill as debate begins on that bill in the U.S. Senate next month. That bill is the AgJOBS bill, or the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act. It's a bill that addresses the undocumented workers already in this country and working in the ag industry. It also modifies the agriculture guestworker program to make it less cumbersome for employers to utilize.

Given the scandal now consuming Craig, he will likely be little or no help getting fellow Republicans to act on AgJOBS, whether as part of the farm bill or as stand alone legislation or immigration reform legislation. Craig is a powerful political voice for agriculture in the Senate. Whatever happens to his political career will have an impact on Idaho, agriculture in the West and nationally. And that's what make Craig's problem of interest to agriculture and worthy of inclusion in agriculture news.

But if you have a different opinion, leave a comment and let us know what you think. Should the Capital Press follow the Craig arrest scandal? Should Craig resign? Should is own party be condemning him? This story -- the Craig scandal, AgJOBS, immigration, all of it -- is packed with strong opinions and extreme views on all sides. Your opinions just may influence how much more of the Craig story we follow online or in print.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Senator Craig should resign immediately. Quite frankly I do not give a damn if he's gay or not - that's his business. However, what I do care a great deal about is honesty, and making morally and ethically correct decisions, and obviously the Senator has failed his constituents miserably in all three of these areas. What is especially troubling is his BEHAVIOR in that airport restroom - looking through the tiny opening at someone for approximately two minutes? This is not NORMAL behavior. I don't care if the person you are attempting to watch is male or female, this is not something NORMAL folks do. Then pleading guilty - when he thought he was "going to get away with it" - and changing his story AFTER the press released the details. Again, this is not typical behavior. This man deals with laws and law making on a federal level in his occupation as a U.S. Senator, I find it incredulous that he has the unmitigated gall to stand before us and try and convince us, that he should have retained counsel and that his poor decision was the result of a "witch hunt" by the Idaho Statesman. Come on, does the Senator think we're all that incredibly stupid? It's time for Senator Craig to resign and stop putting Idaho in such a negative national spot light. After all, we already have one political liability in D.C. (Sali), do we need any more laughing stocks there to represent us? Good Bye Craig, don't let the door hit you on the way out!

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