We are only a few short weeks away from the election to decide whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.
Polls in rural America continue to show Trump carrying the farm vote by a large margin. In a recent online survey of producers conducted by Farm Journal, Trump was backed by 74 percent of respondents, while Clinton drew support from just 9 percent. The remaining respondents favored write-in candidates or sitting out the election.
Both candidates have taken public stands on issues important to producers. Here are highlights:
General platform on agriculture and rural life
Clinton: The Clinton campaign lays out a four-point plan to help rural America. The plan centers around stronger rural investments, support to improve family farm profitability, funding for clean energy investments, and expanding quality-of-life opportunities in rural communities.
Trump: In the “Positions” section of his campaign website, the Republican presidential candidate does not specifically address agricultural or rural issues. However, several of Trump’s broader stated positions touch on topics that affect producers. These are noted as “position detail” in the content below.
Agriculture-related immigration issues
Trump: Under his “Immigration Reform” position detail, Trump supports a new requirement for companies (and, by extension, farm businesses) to hire American workers first before seeking visas for immigrant labor. To do this, the campaign says petitions for workers should initially be sent to local unemployment offices – not U.S. immigration services. Additionally, Trump’s platform calls for a halt in issuances of new green cards for immigrants, after which “employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.”
Clinton: In her outlined plan detail, Clinton supports comprehensive immigration reform, in part because “immigrants and migrant workers play a critical role in developing and supporting America’s agricultural economy.”
Biofuels and Renewable Fuel Standard
Clinton: Clinton’s rural agenda proposes to double loan guarantees made through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. The current limit for loan guarantees is $250 million. Clinton also calls for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard to boost “development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels to protect consumers, improve access to E15, E85 and biodiesel blends, and provide investment certainty.”
Trump: In a speech at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in January, Trump voiced support for both biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard, saying that as president he would “encourage regulators to end restrictions that keep higher blends of ethanol and biofuel from being sold.”
Trump: Earlier this year, Trump responded “yes” when presidential candidates were asked in an Iowa Farm Bureau poll if they supported federal safety net support for revenue risk or catastrophic disasters. In a later Politico report, the Republican presidential candidate reaffirmed his support for crop insurance, adding that “agriculture is not about food, it is about national security.” For that reason, the report noted that Trump agrees with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s position that the federal food stamp program should be separated from the Farm Bill.
Clinton: As a U.S. Senator, the Democratic presidential candidate voted for the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. Under her rural platform detail, Clinton continues to support a producer safety net that targets “federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance and disaster assistance programs to support family operations that truly need them in challenging times” (such as weather-related disasters).
Clinton: According to a recent New York Times analysis of tax proposals for the two presidential candidates, Clinton would lower the current individual estate tax exemption from $5.45 million to $3.5 million. Similarly, she would reduce the exemption for married couples from $10.9 million to $7 million. The current estate tax rate on assets above those exempt levels is 40 percent, and the Democratic presidential candidate has said she would increase that rate to 45 percent.
Trump: In the Iowa Farm Bureau poll, Trump said he supported a permanent repeal of the estate tax. This sentiment is echoed in his campaign’s “Economic Vision” position detail, where he calls for an end to the “death tax” as one of his tax reform proposals.
GMO food labeling
Trump: In the Iowa Farm Bureau poll, Trump said he supported the use of biotechnology (GMOs) in food products, adding that he opposed efforts to require mandatory GMO labeling for food products.
Clinton: While Clinton has consistently supported the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, public positions on GMO food labeling have been harder to pin down. However, Clinton did use Twitter in March to say, “Congress shouldn’t block states from giving families information about their food—glad the Senate stopped this bill.” The bill in question would have prevented the state of Vermont from implementing its own GMO labeling law (since that time, Congress passed – and President Barack Obama signed – a federal food labeling that superseded the more-stringent Vermont legislation).
Trump: In his “Economic Vision” position detail, the Republican presidential candidate calls for appointing trade negotiators who will focus on “narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production and getting a fair deal for our workers.” More specific to agriculture, Trump supports renegotiating NAFTA and does not support the proposed TPP. And, in the Iowa Farm Bureau poll, Trump said he supported Trade Promotion Authority, which allows a U.S. president to fast-track negotiation of trade agreements, subject to a non-amended, up-or-down vote from Congress.
Clinton: As part of her overall economic platform, Clinton says she does not support the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), because it does not “meet a high-enough bar of creating good-paying jobs.” In regard to broader trade issues, a 2015 Clinton campaign fact sheet noted that, “Hillary has said for almost a decade that we need to renegotiate NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) . . . and she would review all of our trade agreements with the same scrutiny.”
Clinton: The Democratic presidential candidate’s platform has three main points in this area. First, support for increasing the number of Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which are funded by Farm Credit banks to help provide capital to rural entrepreneurs and small businesses. Second, strengthening USDA grant programs by cutting bureaucracy and boosting funding flexibility. Third, expanding and making permanent the New Markets Tax Credit, which helps encourage long-term investments in economically struggling rural and non-metro communities.
Trump: To bring more detail to his rural development positions, in mid-August Trump named a national agricultural advisory committee chaired by Charles Herbster, a Nebraska cattle rancher who also owns a farm equipment business in Kansas City, Mo. The committee includes six sitting governors from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma, as well as other elected officials and industry leaders.
The Clinton campaign also has a rural policy council composed of rural and agricultural advocates, but it has not disclosed the members of that group. Both candidates and their advisers have until Nov. 8, Election Day, to further articulate their positions on issues important to rural communities and agriculture.
This post comes from AgriBank’s AgriThought Report.