Republican gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman vied for the support of farmers Tuesday at a forum arranged by the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Hutchinson and Coleman were two of a host of candidates running for office in Arkansas who made short speeches and answered questions before the group's Measure the Candidate event at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.
Coleman said though his background isn't in farming, he understands how federal agencies' over-regulation can pose problems for the bureau's members. He vowed to fight for the rights to privacy and property, which he called the "twin pillars of liberty and freedom."
Coleman said he would as governor oppose: laws that restrict property rights, rural land use planning that infringes on farmers and any increase in government-owned lands.
He added he has "never liked" eminent domain.
"For government to take private property from one property owner and give it to another private property owner, in my opinion it's not eminent domain, it's theft," he said. "And I will fight that with all the ability I have as governor."
Hutchinson emphasized the need for economic growth, saying his income tax reduction plan is one way to accomplish it and noting that agriculture is the "leading economic force in this state."
While that tax plan, which would reduce the income tax for middle-class earners first and later for higher earners, is his priority, Hutchinson said he would look to help farmers specifically.
"I also recognize how tough a time the farmers have had this last year with the propane cost, their fuel cost and their input cost," he said. "Obviously, we ought to look at any relief we can give to our farmers to help them survive."
Hutchinson, who noted he was recently endorsed by the National Rifle Association, said he would also task state agencies with making sure federal regulations do not "unfairly and inappropriately regulate our farmers out of business."
"We need to push back," he said. "The state needs to push back on these federal regulations and mandates that hurt Arkansas farmers."