By Jerry Hagstrom
DTN Political Correspondent
By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
OMAHA (DTN) -- Though U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack would have been considered a homerun for agriculture as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine's, D-Va., resume suggests a mixed bag for farmers and ranchers.
Following the passage of the 2014 farm bill, Kaine said in a news release in February 2014 he supported and voted for the bill for a number of reasons. He indicated the bill would save taxpayers about $23 billion in the next decade, "eliminates wasteful direct payments, strengthens crop insurance and closes loopholes in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program without reducing nutrition access for the neediest people."
Much of Kaine's support for the farm bill came from the inclusion of what he said was "robust support" for Chesapeake Bay restoration and improved "farmers' access to export markets and consumers' access to fresh, local, organic foods."
In 2015 Kaine voted for two Senate bills that would have given the president trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track authority to allow the president to negotiate trade deals that could not be amended by Congress.
Kaine made news this weekend by altering his position on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. Kaine had said he saw much "to like" in the TPP, but has changed his position to follow Clinton's opposition. Kaine said he has concerns about the dispute-resolution mechanism in the agreement.
Kaine has been a proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which has faced heavy criticism from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
As Virginia governor, Kaine was successful in preserving some 400,000 acres from development in 2005, according to PolitiFact Virginia. Also, in 2009 Kaine pushed for expanded conservation efforts through conservation easements, according to WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
On the climate front as governor, Kaine convened a climate commission in 2008 to study the issues. As senator he has frequently called out climate skeptics.
Two environmental groups were quick to endorse Clinton's choice Friday.
"The Democratic ticket now features two environmental champions, both of whom understand that Americans want our government to secure a clean energy future for our kids and grandchildren," said Kevin Curtis, executive director of the National Resource Defense Council Action Fund. "Sen. Kaine's impressive environmental record is a perfect match for a presidential candidate who puts so much emphasis on creating green jobs and expanding America's reliance on clean, renewable energy."
Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt and Environment Virginia State Director Sarah Bucci released a joint statement saying Kaine "has a long history of standing up for the protection of our environment and the safety of our climate, and he'll make an excellent vice president."
On immigration, in October 2015 Kaine voted against proceeding to a vote on a bill that would have withheld funding to so-called sanctuary cities that protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
In January 2013, Kaine joined a number of lawmakers in asking the United States trade representative Ambassador Michael Froman and Vilsack to open chicken markets in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
"The TPP represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chicken growers and companies across the country," Kaine and other lawmakers wrote in a letter to Vilsack and Froman.
In May 2016, Kaine voted to repeal the catfish inspection program calling it a "waste of taxpayer dollars" and an "unnecessary, duplicative program."
There still are questions about Kaine's positions on biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard. According to an Associated Press story Saturday Kaine has ties to oil and gas interests.
As governor of Virginia Kaine supported expanded oil drilling off the state's coast, and according to AP has received political contributions from oil companies in previous election cycles.
According to a report by Taxpayers for Common Sense, however, from 2009 to 2012 Kaine received $28,750 in contributions from biofuels industry groups. That placed him in the top 15 among federal recipients who were not on Congressional committees overseeing biofuels subsidies or mandates.
When Kaine made his debut as Clinton's running mate at a rally in Miami Saturday, he was quick to point out his Midwestern roots.
"Vice president was never a job I thought about growing up in Kansas," Kaine said to a television audience.
"Like a lot of people in Kansas City, my parents weren't that into politics -- church, the Kansas City Royals, that's the kind of thing that we spent time talking about. They had too much else going on. My dad ran a union-organized ironworking shop in the stockyards of Kansas City. And my mom, in addition to all the challenges of my two brothers and me, she was my dad's best saleswoman.
"That ironworking business was tough. It's the kind of job where you can't cut corners. If you're not careful, you can make one mistake and ruin an awful lot of work in an instant.
"I learned that working in my dad's shop. My two brothers and I, we all pitched in. Sometimes we were scheduled to pitch in and sometimes Dad would just shake us in the morning and say, 'I got an order to get out and I really need you guys today.'
"I remember once, the last day of summer vacation, I was so looking forward to sleeping in and then I felt that hand on my shoulder at about 6 a.m. -- 'I've really got to have your help to get an order out today.'
"But that's what families do. We would go there early, especially in the summer, to try to get the work done before the day got hot."
Kaine also noted, "My parents, Al and Kathy, and they're alive and healthy, and they're happy today — 81 years old, alive, healthy and happy. They taught me early lessons that have guided my life: the importance of hard work, of faith and kindness, of following your dreams.
"My mom once told me -- and I'll say this, she wasn't much of a lecturer, she just kind of liked to live and then we were supposed to follow the example -- but she once told me this: 'Tim, you have to decide whether you want to be right or you want to do right. If you want to be right, go ahead and be a pessimist. But if you want to do right, be an optimist.'
"And folks, I've been an optimist ever since."
Kaine said he went to a Jesuit boys' school, Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, before graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in three years.
He then attended Harvard Law School where he met his wife, Anne Holton, who was the daughter of a Republican governor of Virginia. They returned to Richmond, where Kaine served on the city council and as mayor before being elected governor and then senator.
In her introduction, Clinton said both she and Kaine grew up in the Midwest.
"We were raised by fathers who ran small businesses and who taught us about the dignity of work and the discipline of a job well done," Clinton said. "And in both of our families, faith wasn't just something you talked about at church on Sundays. It was a call to serve others in every way that we can.
"And as you get to know Sen. Kaine, you will see that Tim's lifelong commitment to social justice is a shining example of his faith in action. During law school, when his fellow classmates were taking internships at prestigious law firms, he took time off to work with missionaries in Honduras."
The Kansas City Star reported the Kaine family lived in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.
Kaine's parents and two younger brothers -- one a lawyer, the other a pediatric cardiologist -- still live in the Kansas City area, according to the Star. Kaine was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but the family moved to the Kansas City when his father got a job as an electrical engineer at Bendix. His father later started his own business and his mother was a home economics teacher. Kaine went to the University of Missouri to study journalism, but switched his major to economics.
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
Follow Jerry Hagstrom on Twitter @hagstromreport
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Todd on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN
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