WASHINGTON Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Monday vowed to aid small farmers by targeting agricultural tariffs and subsidies doled out to agribusiness.
"If I am elected president, I will seek an end to all agricultural tariffs, and to all farm subsidies that are not based on clear need. I will veto any bill containing special-interest favors and corporate welfare in any form," McCain said in remarks prepared for delivery to the National Restaurant Association in Chicago.
McCain, an Arizona senator, said one of the biggest obstacles to opening up foreign markets to American farmers is found in Washington.
"It's right there in the Congress of the United States, in the billions of dollars in subsidies served up every five years to corporate farmers," McCain said.
"The original idea was to provide a buffer to small farmers in tough times and to assure a stable supply of food for our country. But nowadays, the small farmers have been forgotten, and instead the Congress sends a steady supply of subsidies to agribusiness," he added.
In a speech centering on economic policy, McCain said Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agree on most issues and he sharply disagrees with both of them.
But McCain zeroed in on Obama, the Democratic front-runner, saying he has a habit of talking down trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
"It was bad judgment and a bit inconsistent, "McCain said,
(Writing by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Eric Walsh)