Country Folks/Farm Chronicle Questionnaire
October 17, 2006

Each major election year, Country Folks/Farm Chronicle [Lee Publications] samples candidates on issues relating to agriculture. Below are six questions which, if responded to, will be run side-by-side in our next issue along with your opponent's answers. Thank you for your time and your concern for the agriculture community.

Steve Wagner
Country Folks/Farm Chronicle

What is your stand on the immigration issue & do you support a guest-worker program?
My immigration policy is based on the premise that jobs in America should go to people who are legally in America, that American jobs should pay a fair wage and provide a safe workplace, that America must institute universal health care if it is to remain competitive in the global economy, and that we must reject those U.S. trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA which have destroyed millions of high-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs as well as the economies of Mexico and many Central American countries. I also believe that American consumers who benefit from the success of our economy must be willing to pay a fair price for goods they purchase, if we are to sustain that economy.
     As such, I have a five-part immigration policy. (Please see for more detail)
  1. We should strictly enforce the existing labor laws that prohibit American employers from hiring undocumented workers.
  2. The minimum wage should be a living wage for ALL workers, waitstaff and farm workers included. A living wage is enough to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing.
  3. The Congress must institute single-payer national health care, so that health care is not tied to the job.
  4. We must get the United States out of destructive trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and WTO.
  5. Adjust immigration policy and procedures to reflect reality on the ground and the real needs of businesses.
I do not support a guest worker program, particularly for low-wage jobs. The fact that an employer cannot hire someone at minimum wage is not justification for bringing in temporary immigrant labor. Pay a living wage and you'll get American workers to take those jobs.
What is your position on the estate tax?
The estate tax is one more legitimate form of taxing the transfer of an asset, just as is a sales tax, a gasoline tax, or income tax. And, like the income tax, the estate tax should have reasonable exemptions and deductions below which taxes are not assessed. The latest estimates are that, with current exemptions, about 8,000 families in the United States would be affected by the estate tax.
     Most family farms in the country are in no danger of having to pay estate taxes. For those larger farms, there are many ways a family farm can transfer farm ownership intact through the generations. Every Cooperative Extension office in the country offers financial and estate planning assistance for family farms.
How would you fund natural resource agencies in this state?
How states fund their own share of their natural resources agencies is a matter of state's rights, and not subject to federal legislation. I do, however, support continued and adequate funding of federal natural resource agencies as well as proper funding of federal programs which assist state and local natural resource agencies. A good example of this federal-state-local partnership is the federal USDA funds which go to support state soil and water conservation agencies and local soil and water conservation districts.
How much would you support initiatives to increase the production and use of biofuels in the state?
     A national goal of sustainable energy independence through renewable resources is a key part of my platform. I strongly support research and development connected to increased biofuel production -- biodiesel or ethanol production, and/or the production of other fuels made from annual crops or trees. Biofuels, along with solar, hydro, tidal, geo-thermal and wind for electricity and/or heat production, are absolutely essential as we move closer to peak oil and tackle global warming.
     Sustainable energy independence through renewable resources is key to preserving our environment, cleaning up our air and water, turning our foreign policy away from wars for oil, establishing TRUE national security, restoring our respect in the world community, and assuring that our children and grandchildren can prosper.
     That being said, with the sudden intense interest in alternative energy generated as a result of last spring's $3/gallon gasoline, I would like to see what the free market will do in the near term to encourage biofuel and other alternative energy production, before implementing federal assistance programs.
Why should farmers vote for you now?
First of all because I'm a family farmer. My husband and I own and operate BrightBerry Farm here in Dixmont, Maine, where we raise organic raspberries, high bush blueberries, tomatoes and other vegetables -- although farm production was cut back this year due to the campaign. I also previously farmed in Blue Hill, Maine, where I owned and operated Hay's Farmstand.
     As such, I understand the costs and benefits of successful farming. I am aware of the dangers and the joys. And I know that while there are lots of ways to move money around in this economy, the best way to really CREATE new wealth is to produce food and fiber.
      I know that local agriculture is essential not only to the local economy, but to our national security, as the recent spinach crisis easily showed. For a few years, I worked in commercial sales for a large Maine seed company (Johnny's Selected Seeds), dealing with farmers as far west as Illinois.
      Also, I am aware of the need for agricultural infrastructure to support that farming -- implement dealers, feed stores, certified slaughterhouses, etc. I see a thriving agricultural community as essential, because we need to be able, as a nation, to feed ourselves.
      And, as every farmer knows, you have to use a lot of common sense, hard work, and ingenuity to get through the day, the season, the year. I would bring that practical, goal-oriented flexibility, energy, and fiscal responsibility to Congress.
      I have had a multi-faceted life as a homesteader, farmer, newspaper reporter, author, small business owner. At age 59, it cannot be said that I am looking to become a career politician. For more reasons, check out my web page:
Why do you think you can win in November?
People are ready to take our country back from the politians who are driving it into the ground -- starting a war we had no business starting, sending us into bankruptcy, trashing our Constitution. Mainers see in me someone who shares their values, and their concerns about the direction this country has taken. My world view, my vision for America, is far different, far more positive, far more empowering, than is that of my opponent.
     My vision for America is a return to our country's core values of truth, justice and the American way. I want our U.S. jobs back, I want our environment protected, I want health care for all Americans, I want our students to learn to think. I think the rich should pay their fair share in taxes. I support Roe v. Wade, and would not have voted to confirm Judge Samuel Alito. I want us out of Iraq. I am outraged about the gutting of key provisions of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights (warrantless wiretapping, denial of habeas corpus, etc ). I do not think torture is an American value, and I am incensed that our President feels he can violate not only our own Constitution, but international law and the Geneva Conventions.
     I have been saying since the start of this campaign that in every election, every voter should vote for the America they want to live in. People are finally ready to do that, and they see me and my campaign as a means toward that end.