Seed World

Trump’s Victory and America’s Ag Industry

C. Dean McGrath is an attorney-at-law and founder of the Washington D.C. firm of McGrath & Associates. He has had a long career in public service, including being deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and a member of President George W. Bush’s management council.

If voting in the Plains States and the agricultural Midwest are any indication, then agriculture should be pleased by president-elect Donald Trump’s surprising win.

While Trump is a big city real estate mogul, not a farmer, he is comfortable surrounding himself with people who understand agriculture. Prime example is vice president-elect Mike Pence. The Indiana Governor and former congressman avidly supports technological innovation in production agriculture. Trump’s selection of Reince Priebus – with strong roots in Wisconsin – as his chief of staff bodes well, as does the list of potential agriculture secretary candidates being mentioned.

The impressive list is said to include Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. Farmers Mike McCloskey and Kip Tom have also been mentioned, along with National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO Chuck Connor, Indiana Farm Bureau President Tom Villwock and Pence’s agriculture chief, Ted McKinney.

Trump has noted that, “Family farms are the backbone of this country.” Toward this end he has proposed positive farm policy initiatives, including tax cuts that protect family farms and ranches. Farming is a business that will benefit from Trump’s proposal to cut corporate taxes and limit government regulation.

His proposed repeal of the estate tax will be particularly welcome because of its burden on the family farm. Similarly, Trump’s support of energy independence should benefit the agricultural community. Trump has also noted his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and corn-based ethanol. When it comes to biotech, he told the Iowa Farm Bureau that he supports GMOs and opposes mandatory labeling of biotech ingredients.

Growers and ranchers around the country have been complaining for years about Washington red tape. The incoming administration has heard the message loud and clear. “Regulations have grown into a massive job-killing industry,” Trump said on the campaign trail. “The regulation industry is one business I will absolutely put an end to on day one.”

All indications are the president-elect will revoke at least some of the current administration’s most troublesome executive orders. High on farmers’ agenda is Executive Order 13508, the Chesapeake Bay order the EPA has been using to take over local land use decisions from farmers. Trump has also called the Waters of the U.S. rule “a disaster.” He has said he will not back down and is willing to do what it takes to end “the war on the American farmer.”

While Trump is a vocal critic of free trade agreements, he told the Iowa Farm Bureau that he supports the aggressive expansion of markets for U.S. agricultural products through trade promotion authority. Trump has singled out American agriculture manufacturers like John Deere as an important source of jobs that “need to be able to export without being taxed to death.”

So across the board, preliminary indications are that farmers and ranchers and those involved in supporting agriculture will have a new president that intends to do the right things to get America growing again.