The Democratic Party’s draft 2020 platform calls for directing more farm subsidies to small and medium-size farms while making the agriculture sector the first in the first world to eliminate net carbon emissions.
The platform includes a section on global trade that decries President Donald Trump’s "reckless" tariff war with China while pledging to protect American workers from unfair foreign competition and ensuring that Democrats first invest in "American competitiveness at home” before initiating new trade deals.
The 80-page draft, leaked to several media outlets, pledges Democrats will be tough on China but doesn’t expand on promises that the presumptive presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has made to extract concessions from the Chinese by coordinating with U.S. allies.
“Democrats believe that if the United States does not work with its allies and partners to shape the terms of global trade, China will shape them for us — and American working families and the middle class will pay the price. That’s why we will work with our allies to mobilize more than half the world’s economy to stand up to China and negotiate from the strongest possible position,” the draft says.
On other issues, the platform promises to extend new wage and hour protections to farmworkers and to provide undocumented agricultural employees a path to citizenship.
The draft pledges to make it a priority to extend broadband to all Americans, including by ensuring that municipalities and rural co-ops can build publicly-owned broadband networks.
“Democrats will invest in the American heartland and rural communities,” the platform says, promising to expand the use of USDA ownership and operating loan programs and to continue reform efforts started during the Obama administration to assist farmers of color.
The platform goes on to pledge, “We will protect family farms and promote food security, including by taking steps to limit foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and reforming agricultural subsidies to better support small- and mid-sized farms.”
The draft promises to “expand popular, voluntary programs for sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices that help protect clean air and water and support wildlife habitats.”
The draft doesn’t go into detail on how the subsidy reforms or other proposals would be carried out.
The platform endorses the intent of “right-to-repair” legislation that would ensure that farmers can repair farming equipment without going through the manufacturer’s service providers. “Democrats believe farmers should have the right to repair their own farming equipment, rather than being forced to rely on large corporations for even the simplest fixes."
The language in the draft about making U.S. farmers carbon-neutral reflects a key part of Biden’s climate plan.
“Democrats will partner with America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to make the U.S. agriculture sector the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, which will spark a revolution in agriculture and open up new revenue streams for farmers in energy and waste products, and grow bio-based manufacturing jobs,” the platform says.
To meet U.S. climate goals, the platform says Democrats will use federal programs “to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners pursue high-productivity, lower-emission, and regenerative agricultural practices in order to help build more resilient, vibrant, local and regional food systems. We will substantially increase investments in voluntary conservation programs, which generate economic and environmental benefits for farmers and their surrounding communities.”
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The draft goes on to call for increasing the use of biofuels by “strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard, supporting E15 blends, and supporting research, development, and deployment of advanced biofuels.”
On ag labor issues, the draft promises to enforce "labor and environmental protections for farmworkers, including overtime and safety rules protecting workers from exposure to pesticides and extreme heat, and ensure farmworkers are able to exercise their right to bargain collectively.”
The platform also promises to expand food assistance programs, including federally subsidized school meals, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children program. The platform specifically promises to ensure that former prison inmates are eligible for food aid.
“In the wealthiest country on earth, it is a moral abomination that any child could ever go to bed hungry,” the platform says.
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