Journalist and pundit Tucker Carlson will give an overview on the political lay of the land and key themes for the 2016 presidential election during his keynote address at FFVA 2015.
Carlson serves as co-host of FOX & Friends Weekend, which airs weekends from 6 to 10 a.m. He joined Fox News Channel in 2009.
He has covered political events including immigration reform, the 2012 presidential election and the trial of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards.
Before working at Fox News Channel, Carlson joined CNN in 2000 as its youngest anchor to co-host The Spin Room. He went on to co-host Crossfire until its cancellation in 2005. He also serves as editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, a political news website he launched in 2010. His 2003 autobiography is titled Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News.
FFVA talked with Carlson about politics and agriculture.*
FFVA: What are your thoughts on who may be running in the general election?
Carlson: I would say usually by this point of the process it’s pretty easy to pick who the nominees are going to be. But I would say this year it is not – especially on the Republican side. I would say that this is the first free-for-all in the Republican primary in my lifetime. Even my kids are running. It’s impossible to know who the Republican nominee is going to be this far out, but it is possible to know what the themes are likely to be. I would say that the main theme on both sides is going to be economic populism.
FFVA: What are you views on issues that concern the Florida agriculture industry such as comprehensive immigration reform? Do you see that happening in the near future?
Carlson: I would say there is a massive disconnect between Republican leadership in Washington and Republican-base voters on immigration. Republican politicians want comprehensive immigration reform. Republican voters don’t. I’m sure your members who are Republicans are in favor of it. It’s a very volatile issue.
FFVA: What are some of the things that our members should pay attention to on the political scene?
Carlson: There are three things: A) They should be aware of profound volatility. Things are changing really, really fast. Today’s consensus is unlikely to withstand next year’s events. Everything is changing. B) Voters distrust everyone in power. It’s a deeper distrust than has been measured in 40 years. And C) The demographic changes in America are completely changing the way people vote and the assumptions they’re taking with them when they vote.
FFVA: From your experience in television, how would you advise an industry such as agriculture to tell its story via the media?
Carlson: One of the things that people love is technology and efficiency. If I were running an ag company, I would brag about how much more efficient our crop-growing techniques are than in the past. You know, it used to take us X gallons of water per acre to produce X crop and now it takes this. People think that all the tech advances in America are going to the iPhone, but a lot of them are taking place in the ag sector. Also, people take their food for granted. That’s a problem. The reason is that ag has been so successful in this country. I think it’s worth reminding people what percentage of their take-home pay they spend on food as compared to other countries. Even in Western Europe – in France. What percentage of its take-home pay does the average French family spend on food? It’s much more than the average American family spends. That’s a stat we should all have at the tip of our tongues, because the industry needs to be telling us. You’re getting cheap, nutritious sustenance because we’re doing our job so effectively.
FFVA: Anything else you’d like to share?
Carlson: Just that my family has been involved in ag to this day in California. They run a lot of farms – citrus and garlic and a lot of other things [including] cattle … They’ve been in ag in California for 150 years. I don’t think farmers should have a hard time telling their story. Everyone wants to eat. … I think people are predisposed to like farmers. Who doesn’t like farmers?
In addition to Carlson’s presentation at the Cracker Breakfast on Sept. 24, FFVA 2015 will feature a “state of the industry” presentation by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
The convention also will offer three breakout Issues Forums: “Food Crop Industries and GMO: Talking to a Concerned Public,” “The Global Market: What’s in it for You?” and “Addressing Critical Water Challenges.”
There also will be networking opportunities, recognition of industry and legislative leaders, a benefit auction, golf and fishing events, and more.
To learn more about the convention and to register, go here.
* Interview took place June 23, 2015