The agriculture industry is a shining spot in the economy right now, and presidential candidates would do well to put some focus on it.

We may not get a 2012 Farm Bill approved this year (it’s now a secondary issue to presidential politics), but it’s a topic that is critical for farmers and ranchers to consider as they follow the election and issues that will affect the industry.

“A fundamental question is, what’s the role of the government in providing a safety net to agriculture?” asked Mark Maslyn, executive director of public policy with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Some of our programs won’t survive; we’ll have to deal with fewer resources. Thinking broadly about how farm policy should best serve farmers and ranchers and the public is a debate worth having.”

An issue that the dairy industry will continue to face is increased regulation. “Farmers and ranchers have been facing a regulatory avalanche in recent years, particularly with environmental issues,” Maslyn said. “It’s a challenging situation that impacts dairy producers and others.”

Fluctuation in capital gains tax rates, estate tax rules and the budget deficit and spending in general are also important issues to pay attention to. As the election nears, the American Farm Bureau Federation will continue to post information on its website regarding policy statements and where the candidates stand on the issues.