If you grow, export, import or trade fresh produce you have 5 weeks to make up your mind who would be better suited to protect your interests as president of the United States. Well, your opinion counts if you are a registered US voter – the rest of the world is watching. The biggest problem is the lack of information and discussion about agriculture topics.
“Unfortunately, agriculture and food issues have never risen to the top of these debates,” explained Dan Glickman, a former Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton and a supporter of the Clinton campaign. “There’s a limited amount of time, and the media tends to focus on the wild and crazy, but it would be nice for someone to ask the question about the role of food and agriculture as part of our economic issues.” (Food Processing)
The Ag Policy Blog put it more clearly:
The words “rural,” “farmer,” and “agriculture” did not come up at all last night during the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The site commondreams.org actually states that most of the important questions about Agriculture and Trade have not been answered yet.
So, which candidate is the best choice for fostering and developing the american industry? Which one is the best choice for open and strong global trade? Let us try to understand the positions. According to ballotpedia.org these are the general positions on agriculture:
- Hillary Clinton unveiled her plan to support coal-dependent communities on November 12, 2015. She proposed repurposing mine lands and power plant sites for forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing; electrifying dams on federal land; and supporting local food and agriculture businesses in Central Appalachia.
- Clinton wants to expand access to fresh food for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. Her plan would support local rural economies and make more fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to SNAP participants at farmers markets. Pilot programs have demonstrated increases in the purchasing power of SNAP benefits when recipients used them to buy local fruits and vegetables. Clinton’s food policy incorporates the “Farm-to-Fork” initiative she promoted while serving in the U.S. Senate.
- Increase the number of Rural Business Investment Companies to develop more jobs and build “capital networks.”
- Simplify regulations for community banks in rural areas to facilitate the funding of small businesses.
- Increase access to high-speed broadband technology.
- Permanently establish and expand the New Markets Tax Credit, which “was designed to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing a modest tax incentive to private investors.”
- Strengthen U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs, like the USDA StrikeForce Initiative, increasing their flexibility and ability to target rural development programs.
- Double funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program and work to decrease student debt through the New College Compact.
- Double funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program to strengthen local food systems.On August 26, 2015, Clinton introduced her plan to strengthen rural communities with a speech in Iowa and a corresponding white paper on her website. Her proposal includes the following actions:
- Enact comprehensive immigration reform that acknowledges the contribution of immigrants and migrant workers to agriculture.
- Fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentive Programs and initiatives like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
- Strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard.
- Encourage the installation of 500 million solar panels and the production of sufficient clean renewable energy to power every home in the U.S. within a decade through the Clean Energy Challenge.
- Improve access to healthcare through telemedicine and rural health clinics.
- In December 2007, Clinton voted in favor of an amendment to HR 2419 – Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, that would have limited the amount of subsidies that married couples deriving a portion of their income from farming or related activities could receive.
- Clinton voted in favor of the conference report on HR 2744 – Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA Appropriations Act of 2006. This law established appropriations for the Agricultural Research Service, Farm Service Agency, Rural Community Advancement Program, Rural Electrification and Telecommunications Loans Program, and Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program.
- In May 2006, Clinton voted against an amendment to HR 4939 – Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2006, that would have removed a $6 million subsidy for sugarcane growers in Hawaii.
And here is what we know about Trump’s position on agriculture:
- On August 27, 2016, Trump spoke about agricultural policy at a campaign event in Iowa, saying, “Family farms are the backbone of this country. We are going to end the EPA intrusion into your family homes and your family farms. We are going to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard, eliminate job-killing regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule, and provide desperately-needed tax relief. … We are going to end this war on the American farmer. That includes our plan to lower the tax rate on family farms down to 15 percent, and to stop the double-taxation of family farms at death – helping to ensure that the family farm tradition in Iowa continues to thrive and flourish.”
- In July 2016, Trump selected cattle farmer Charles Herbster to lead his agriculture and rural advisory committee. According to Herbster, a primary agricultural concern for the campaign is reducing regulation.
- Politico reported in May 2016 that “Trump endorses crop insurance, a top priority for farmers, and like House SpeakerPaul Ryan, advocates separating the food stamp program from the farm bill, adding that he believes ‘agriculture is not about food — it is about national security,’ according to another campaign response. That idea is divisive among farm-state lawmakers because it threatens the urban-rural coalition that has won passage of the farm bill every five years.”
- Speaking at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on January 19, 2016, Trump expressed support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), saying, “I will encourage Congress to be cautious in attempting to change any part of the RFS. Energy independence is a requirement if America is to become great again.”[23
The magazine Modern Farmer also compiled a list of positions of the two candidates.
Fact is: We do not know much (and these are all campaign promises…) – and as usual Trump is more outspoken on what he wants to stop. Clinton’s ideas are more detailed and proactive but not visionary.
My personal view: The next president should address climate change (which starts to affect a large number of crops in the US already), resources (water), labour and immigration, offer a clear strategy concerning GMO, organic production and it should offer a clear direction for nutrition policy. While the US government claims to fight obesity and support nutrition with fresh and healthy products the ‘malnutrition’ industry for snacks, sweets and and fast food still dominates american daily lives.