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An Ag economist’s view on Speaker Ryan

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

The new speaker of the House of Representatives is Paul Ryan from Wisconsin.  Not an unknown in agricultural circles but he’s never been in a position of power as he assumed this week.

At the American Bankers Association meeting last week, there was a lot of talk about farm policy as the US House of Representatives changed speakers from John Boehner, from Ohio, a moderate Midwest republican to a budget hawk from the upper Midwest.

Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, ag economist and long standing force in agricultural politics, gave his view of Ryan.

“Ryan has what I would call a mixed bag record as far as ag is concerned.  He will be very supportive of the trade agreement.  He doesn’t like farm payments very well.  He, of course, comes from a dairy state so he is a little careful there.  How much he changes as speaker is yet to be known.  The circumstances of how he becomes speaker are most unusual and very favorable to him.  They didn’t have anybody!  And I think what the “wing nuts” don’t understand is that he was schooled by John Boehner.  Then you add the political power he has accumulated because he didn’t give anything away to get their support,” said Flinchbaugh.

Ryan, according to Flinchbaugh, will be good on trade so he may join the president to push the Transpacific Partnership through the house.  He is likely to frown on farm payments so the 3 billion dollar cut to crop insurance, which will be rescinded, may be an example of future outcomes for all who come calling on Washington for money.

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