Trump: Election Implications for Agriculture

Jacob Bunge and Jesse Newman reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The U.S. Farm Belt helped propel Donald Trump to his upset presidential win, betting that the New York billionaire will boost the rural economy and shield farmers and agricultural companies from regulation.

“But the election of Mr. Trump, whose campaign was rooted in populism and blistering critiques of U.S. trade deals, injects new uncertainty into agricultural trade that underpins much of the domestic farm sector.

“The election also raises new questions for multi-billion dollar merger deals that would ratchet up consolidation among the handful of companies that supply the bulk of crop seeds and pesticides.”

The Journal writers noted that, “Some in farm country held out hope that the Obama administration could yet secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which some agricultural groups and companies have championed as boosting U.S. exports’ competitiveness in key Asian markets.”

Today’s article also pointed out that, “Some farmers anticipate a Trump administration to take a looser approach to agricultural regulations, such as a controversial clean-water rule implemented last year by the Environmental Protection Agency that has drawn legal challenges from farm groups.

“That could be welcome news for the fertilizer industry, which is grappling with a multiyear slump and hopeful that a Trump presidency will usher in ‘a pause from the regulatory onslaught we’ve had from the current administration,’ said Chris Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute, an industry group.”

Daniel Looker reported today at Agriculture Online that, “Early in his campaign, Trump talked of eliminating the EPA.

“‘He’s not King and he’s not going to eliminate the EPA, but I think he will target some of the important rules,’ [American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher]  said.”

Mr. Looker also pointed out that, “Both Trump and the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, opposed completing the already negotiated TPP, which President Barack Obama supports. In theory, Obama could ask Congress to approve it during the lame-duck session this fall.”

“‘I think it’s not very likely that the lame-duck Congress takes it up,’ said Thatcher.”

And a Politico article from early this morning noted that, with respect to a Secretary of Agriculture in a Trump administration, “Other names include Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; as well as Charles Herbster, Republican donor and agribusiness leader; and Mike McCloskey, a major dairy executive in Indiana, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that advises top foundations and closely tracked both transition efforts.

Bruce Rastetter, a major Republican donor in Iowa, and Kip Tom, a farmer who ran for Congress in Indiana this year but was defeated in the primary, are also among those being considered, Arabella said.

“Other top Republican insiders expect that Chuck Connor, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Don Villwock, president of the Indiana Farm Bureau; and Ted McKinney, current director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture in administration of Gov. Mike Pence, are also likely to be in the running for the post.”

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