President Obama listens to farmers in rural Illinois
August 17th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

President Obama listens to farmers in rural Illinois

ATKINSON, Illinois (CNN) - On the final day of his three-day Midwest bus tour, President Obama returned to the state that first elected him, visiting Wyffels Hybrids, a corn seed producer in Atkinson, Illinois.

The president continued this week's theme of praising America’s resilience while criticizing its politics, saying that this week’s trip through Middle America has reminded him why he ran for office in the first place.

“I will tell you when I travel through downstate Illinois, when I travel through Iowa, when I travel through the Midwest, I am absolutely confident about this country. And the reason is because of you. The reason is because of the American people,” the president said. “But there is something wrong with our politics.”

Amid accusations that the president is using an official, taxpayer-funded trip as a poorly-disguised campaign bus tour, Bob Wyffels, owner of the company where the president spoke this morning,  disagrees.  He approves the White House’s goal of finding a way for the president to speak directly to rural Americans.

"We’re all for supporting a town hall meeting where Americans can speak out,” Wyffels said.  Adding, “and you don’t say no to the president.”

Wyffels was cautious not to paint himself as an avid Obama supporter.

“Regardless of your political position it’s an honor to have him come,” Wyffels said. “[Wyffels Hybrids] is not a Republican or a Democratic company. We have 110 employees and we’ve got Republicans and Democrats.”

This sentiment of respecting the office of the presidency, regardless of who’s holding it, appeared prevalent in Atkinson today. Rock Katschnig, a conservative corn and soybean farmer who farms 3,500 acres of land down the road from Wyffels, said that the president’s visit was one of the best things that has happened in Atkinson, even if he disagrees with Obama’s politics.

Katschnig sells one hundred percent of his corn to an ethanol facility six miles down the road, and said he’s sympathetic to the president’s calls for shared sacrifice, even if that means cuts to ethanol subsidies. His main concern today was government over-regulation – a concern he got to share with the president about during today’s town hall.

“Please don’t challenge us with more rules and regulations in Washington, D.C. that hinder us from doing that,” Katschnig said. “We would prefer to start our day in a tractor cab or combine cab, rather than filling out forms and permits to do what we like to do.”

Arriving near the end of a three-state swing in a region where agriculture is one of the most important industries, President Obama encouraged Katschnig to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture directly rather than worry about rumors. But he was quick to reassure him by saying, “Nobody’s more interested in seeing our agricultural sector successful than I am.”

A point the president is sure to make again when he answers one last round of questions Wednesday afternoon at the Country Corner Farm Market on the other side of Henry County in Alpha, Illinois.

Topics: Bus Tour • President Obama • The Buzz

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Wyff

    Correction: The name is "Wyffels," not "Wyffel."

    August 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • staciacnn

      Corrected. Apologies.

      August 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  2. sue washington

    Osama Obama Biden Bin Laden
    One coincidence? Two coincidences?

    A Coup d'etat began during the 2008 presidential election.

    Obama is not the president, he’s the acting president. He disappeared for 2 weeks after his election win only to reappear looking exhausted sitting next to John McCain, with a bad poker face, for a press photo shoot. Obama is now a Pentagon puppet.

    Here’s what Obama, Osama, Biden, Bin Laden, the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists, and Sarah Palin had to do with the last presidential election and the military’s overthrow of our government. Search ElectNoMoreSpys.blogspot

    August 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • jean2009

      Need to lay of the tea it poisons the brain.

      August 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  3. Luis

    What is a famer?

    August 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  4. jka

    This is the only report about the bus tour that got the story right. This wasn't about Obama campaigning or not. Afterall, politicans are always campaigning to some degree. The story that developed was that there are still people in America who are proud and honored to host the President of the United States and who truly want to have a conversation with their elected official. Respect for the office of the presidency, regardless of political ideology, has been lacking since the witch hunts of the Clinton administration. My only hope is that Congress might take note of the civility extended to the President by the people of rural Illinois.

    August 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • SarahSmart

      So true! Watch and learn Congress!

      August 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  5. carroldeese

    The large eye-catching bus has apparently created quite a stir, with looks, gasps, and whispers about what the monstrosity reportedly cost.

    August 18, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  6. Livestock Farmer

    Obama: "I think most farmers here know, particularly in livestock, the costs of feed keep going up & the costs of food...are also going up" We shouldn't be burning our feed and food in our gas tanks.

    August 19, 2011 at 9:28 am |