President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden responded to a survey by American Farm Bureau Federation with sharply different policy priorities on issues vital to farmers, from farm programs to labor rules.
The Trump campaign stopped short of detailing new proposals for a second term, but promised to protect producers from new regulations and said that a new farm bill “must do a better job of sustaining” farmers “through these tough times.” The 2018 farm bill expires in 2023.
The Biden campaign reiterated his plan to “dramatically expand” the Conservation Stewardship Program and to provide new aid to beginning farmers and local and regional agriculture while fostering ag research, and to direct new assistance to farmers aimed at helping them reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On regulatory policy, the Biden campaign said his administration would provide an “open, transparent” process when considering new rules and "listen to those that might be impacted by a regulation before it is crafted.”
On trade, the Trump campaign said that his current policy would lead to new trade deals, including a new agreement with the United Kingdom, which could in turn pave the way for progress” with the European Union.
The Biden campaign made no promises on new trade deals, saying instead that his administration would “develop a comprehensive strategy to aggressively enforce our laws in an effective way whenever it is needed. Critically, we will also look at what new approaches and tools are needed to combat unfair trade practices jeopardizing production and jobs here and to gain access for our products in other markets.”
Here are highlights of other survey responses:
Biofuels — The Biden campaign said it would make development of next-generation biofuels, which would be made from crop residue and other sources of cellulose, a "top priority." "The Biden-Harris Plan will invest in research to develop cellulosic biofuels in a manner that protects our soil and water and addresses the challenge of climate change, while turning grass, crop residues, and other biomass into fuel." The Biden campaign repeated its criticism of EPA's issuance of waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The Trump campaign reiterated his promise to ensure that at least 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol is used domestically each year. The president also will seek to increase ethanol exports and expand the infrastructure for distributing higher blends of ethanol domestically.
Farm labor — The Biden campaign reiterated his support for legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for farmworkers who are in the country illegally. Biden also is promising to support overtime for farmworkers and to provide protections from pesticide and heat exposure.
The Trump campaign said he wants to pass immigration reform that would ensure farmers “have access to the labor they need. The Trump/Pence administration is eager to work with Congress to finally deal with all these issues, and we think there will be opportunity to do just that in a second term.”
Tax policy — Biden promised to use revenue from a corporate tax increase “to make investments in households and businesses around the country, including those that will help farmers and ranchers boost their productivity and better compete in world agricultural markets.”
The Trump campaign also suggested that Biden would seek to expand the estate tax, which currently applies only to assets exceeding $11.58 million.
Biotechnology — The Biden campaign didn’t outline reform plans but said he would “appoint officials who value and invoke scientific evidence to guide decision-making and the regulatory process.”
The Trump campaign said he would “never regulate farmers based upon some hot trend on social media and he will continue to insist that our trading partners adopt these same rules in order to do business with the U.S.”
Neither campaign said whether it would change the way animal biotechnology is regulated, a major issue for the livestock sector, which would like to see regulatory oversight moved from the Food and Drug Administration to the Agriculture Department.
The Trump administration this year finalized changes to USDA's regulatory process for crops, and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changes in the way it oversees plants that are engineered to protect themselves against pests.
Read the full survey responses here.
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