As farmers wake up Wednesday to the reality of a Donald J. Trump presidency, what do they have to look forward to in four years of a Trump Administration?
Trump’s apparent victory, which materialized in the early hours of Wednesday morning, bucked trends in several ways. His race ultimately did not seem to affect down-ticket ballots, with both the House and Senate protecting its Republican majorities. Nor did an anticipated record-Latino vote against him seem to materialize, according to preliminary results.
That led to some increased stability in the Senate Agriculture Committee, which wasn’t anticipating any upsets from member reelection attempts, but which would still be significantly affected if Democrats reclaimed a majority number of seats.
John Dillard, Farm Journal columnist and agricultural and environmental law expert, says farmers might see positives and negatives spill out of the election results.
First, the positives.
“I think agriculture will welcome his promise to scrap some regulations, such as WOTUS, as well as putting someone with an ag background in charge of EPA,” Dillard says.
Trump has been criticized for his lack of specific policy stances, and Dillard notes he has not developed a comprehensive ag and rural platform. Trump does have a plan, however.
“His campaign has put together a top-notch committee of farm country leaders to advise him on ag issues,” Dillard says.
Trump has also proven a solid supporter of RFS, and his campaign surrogates have made it clear he understands the importance of the farm bill. Dillard also anticipates a Trump Administration will look more closely at how the Department of the Interior and USDA manage public lands, which he admits has been a contentious issue for many western ranchers.
But should farmers also be concerned about Trump’s positions on free trade?
“Agriculture is heavily dependent on trade to boost commodity prices,” Dillard says. “Trump’s opposition to TPP is troubling. Furthermore, if he follows through on his promise to scrap NAFTA and commence trade ward, it could be disastrous for agriculture on a level we haven’t seen since the Soviet grain embargo.”
Labor-intensive agriculture should also be concerned about Trump’s position on immigration, Dillard adds. Even though Trump’s position has appeared to soften somewhat over the course of his campaign, major disruptions in the labor supply will still be possible.
Farmers should also consider possible Trump appointments to cabinet posts, USDA’s Secretary of Agriculture in particular, according to Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president with Informa Economics and Pro Farmer Washington Consultant. However, speculation is a dangerous game in this arena, he says.
“The new President often picks someone who’s not even on the so-called short list,” he says.
With Trump, that’s even more true, Wiesemeyer notes.
“It’s question marks galore,” he says.
From Trump’s June 2015 announcement he would run for president all the way to the November 2016 presidential election, only one constant has held true – nothing goes quite as it has been predicted. The news of his victory created significant movements in everything from stock markets to grain prices to currency rates. Most analysts advise – prepare for volatility, at least in the short term.