Udall meets with area agriculture officials

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Representative Tom Udall autographs a picture for Frank Fogarty, 9, while his Mother Sue Fogarty, looks on Monday at Daylight Donuts, during a question and answers session. Udall was also encouraging everyone to get out and vote early.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff

U.S. Senate candidate Tom Udall told area agriculture officials and producers he voted against the recent $700 billion bailout when it came before the U.S. House because he didn’t feel there was enough in the bill for Main Street America versus Wall Street.

And there are no mechanisms in the bailout to solve the mortgage crisis or the deregulation of the markets that caused the economic downturn, said Udall, a Democrat, who is jockeying against U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and for the senate seat being vacated by Republican Pete Domenici.

“We didn’t do anything to solve the problem,” he said, explaining he has at least been relieved by the decision of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to invest bailout money in markets where there may be a return on taxpayer money as opposed to buying up bad mortgage notes.

“I’m very encouraged Paulson has changed tactics,” said Udall, in his fifth term as the District 3 U.S. representative. “Taxpayers are going to make their money back.”

Udall officials invited agriculture community members to the meeting.

When queried by an audience member as to why the markets weren’t allowed to just settle themselves, Udall said he believes on a temporary basis, the government had to intervene and restore confidence in the markets.

“If you want to let the free market work itself out, going, going down until it hits the bottom and builds back up … If you like that, then vote for my opponent Steve Pearce,” he answered.

The best way to stimulate the economy, he said, is to feed bailout money into struggling state, city and county governments who are losing tax revenues through dropped consumer spending.

“If we shared some revenue on a temporary basis with city and county and states. … If you did all of that, you soften the downturn,” he said, explaining governments would then employ people for infrastructure projects, stimulating the economy while strengthening and improving infrastructure.

Dairy farmer Art Schaap asked Udall when the government was going to bailout citizens.

“I had to go and pay $300 for corn and nobody bailed me out and I wrote those checks every day,” he said, explaining the increased push for ethanol as an alternate fuel has created a competition for corn between the ethanol and agriculture industries.

Farmers locked in at high grain prices out of fear they would continue to rise, Schaap said, and then the commodities dropped.

“That transition hit us like a brick in the side of the head. We’re all just sitting here trying to recoup what happened. … all of our rules of thumb went out the window,” he said.

Udall said he understood how difficult the corn situation has been for farmers.

“Everybody thought the commodities were going to go up. All the commodities are tanking right now. I want to stabilize (that),” he said.

Former lieutenant governor and dairy official Walter Bradley asked to hear Udall’s stance on immigration, stressing that employers should not have to police employees to ensure their immigration status is legal.

Udall said he believes a comprehensive policy is needed and that illegal immigrants should be brought out of the shadows.

Those with criminal backgrounds should be dealt with appropriately and the remainder, “They’re going to have to pay fines, pay back taxes, learn English and get at the back of the line if they want to be American citizens,” he said.

At the close of the meeting, attendee Billy Tate stood and thanked Udall for coming, and asked him not to forget that if elected, the people are depending on him to do their will in Washington, D.C.

“Before you do something stupid, think about us people down here in the state. … Think about us before you vote.”

Laughing, Udall responded, “I’m not going back to do this to forget about you. … I want to do what’s right for you.”