Monday, November 07, 2016

Trump, Clinton disagree on several farm issues

"The path to the White House could run through Iowa cornfields and Pennsylvania dairy farms, Nevada cattle ranches and Ohio soybean rows," Joseph Morton writes for the Omaha World-Herald. "Those swing states’ rural voters will . . . have plenty to consider in the candidates’ proposals on taxes and farm subsidies, renewable energy and environmental regulations, immigration and trade."

Trump has been chasing rural votes, which have increasingly gone Republican in recent presidential elections. He touts his vow to eliminate the federal estate tax, but "Clinton supporters note that only a tiny percentage of farm operations qualify for the tax," Morton reports. Former deputy agriculture secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, “This is not going to hit mom and dad who want to transfer their farm upon their death to their kids.”

Morton writes, "Clinton supporters note that as a senator she supported the 2008 farm bill that Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, voted against as a congressman, citing budget concerns. Trump in the past also has talked about the need to rein in federal nutrition assistance, which includes the program commonly referred to as food stamps. The Clinton team says Trump’s approach could endanger the farm bill because the marriage of food stamps and farm programs is what has united rural and urban lawmakers in supporting farm legislation." Trump farm adviser Sam Clovis "rejected the idea that Trump would pull food stamps from the farm bill. But he suggested that Trump would look at crop insurance and other subsidies to see how well they are working."

Farmers are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency's new definition of "waters of the United States" in the Clean Water Act will cause needless interference in their operations, but "Merrigan said she has seen how water contamination can destroy a small rural town and that water quality is important to farmers. . . .She also suggested that much of the talk about regulating water in ditches is overblown and that Clinton is committed to better communication with farm country on those regulations."

Some farmers are worried about Trump's opposition to trade agreements. "Trade is huge for U.S. agriculture, which relies on overseas markets to move billions of dollars in product," Morton notes. "Both candidates oppose the trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, however." Charles Herbster, Trump's top ag adviser, "said it’s a misconception that Trump is against trade — he just wants better deals," Morton reports.

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