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Former Idaho senators talk inauguration speech, agriculture

While many Idaho democrats have been long-anticipating the moment President Barack Obama took the stage to be sworn-in for the second time, they are calling this a victory with many challenges in the road ahead.

“I think it says a lot to the whole world, and I think it’s a very positive message,” said former Idaho Senator Diane Bilyeu (D). “And I think the theme of this whole inauguration speech, really, is that we have to all work together.”

Republicans have been voicing their view as well.

“I really enjoyed his second inaugural address,” said former Idaho Senator Evan Frasure ( R). “I was waiting for some bipartisan efforts to reach out to half of the country who doesn’t support him and I didn’t see that happen unfortunately.”

As positive of a message as it may seem, with the latest Gallup polls showing President Obama standing at a 50-percent approval rating, both democrats and republicans know the President has a few hurdles ahead in these next four years.

“Definitely education,” Bilyeu said. “Job creation, the economy, the environment, immigration – he has a whole list of challenges before him.”

“He has been quite divisive as a president, and as he comes into his second term – second terms are tough,” Frasure said.

But despite those challenges our Commander in Chief will face in these next four years, some Idahoans will be focusing-in on one particular issue which will feed an important part of the economy.

And that’s agriculture.

“Basically, what we will be watching is that we would like to see a farm bill come out,” said Idaho Farm Bureau spokesman John Thompson. “They extended the current farm bill btu that bill comes up every five to seven years and there’s a reason for that. We want to see some changes made.”

Thompson said he has seen the farming community flourish these past four years, but it may be due to other policies put in place that had a domino effect back to the agricultural level.

However, Bilyeu said this is due to the Obama administration.

“The one sector of the Idaho economy that’s been doing great these past several years has been agriculture. And of course one of the reasons for that is because of the exports that have been created under the Barack Obama,” Bilyeu said.

Nonetheless, Thompson believes the increasing global need for these local agriculture exports are always beneficial. In addition, the value of the dollar compared to other foreign currencies have made United States’ exports more affordable, thus creating a greater demand – especially from those who suffered from this past year’s devastating drought which never impacted Idaho because of the state’s irrigation system.

“When the demand for the commodities we produce goes up, it’s a good thing for agriculture and has been,” Thompson said.

He also said the IFB will be keeping a close eye on who will replace Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior after he resigns by the end of March. Thompson mentioned this is important to Idaho since, depending on who will step in, there will be a significant impact on the state’s public land managed by the federal government.

With imposing restrictions increasing on some of this land, Thompson believes this might put numbers of people in the farming community out of work.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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