WASHINGTON, July 20, 2016 - Donald Trump is officially the Republican standard bearer today after formally being nominated by president at the GOP convention last night in Cleveland. And today the campaign is expected to announce an effort to organize the agriculture sector behind Trump.
The aggies-for-Trump effort is expected to be announced today at the Great American Farm Luncheon, an event organized by agribusiness companies and organizations near the convention site. The Trump campaign effort will serve as the Republican counter to a meeting that Agri-Pulse broke news of last week in New York between a group of agribusiness CEOs and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Pence makes acceptance speech. The star of the GOP convention tonight will be Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Indiana farm groups have been praising the selection of Pence, who has been a big supporter of trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump wants to scrap. The convention also will hear from two of Trump’s former challengers for the nomination, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Reform groups seek attention near GOP convention. Organizations that are pushing for major changes in the farm and labor policy are trying to draw attention to their agenda by hosting events at each of the national party conventions. The Plate of the Union coalition hosted a barbecue reception yesterday afternoon near the Quicken Loans arena, the site of the GOP convention.

The event attracted some journalists and small number of delegates and other convention attendees. The chairman of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, showed up, although he didn’t appear to be listening to the presentation. Also in attendance was a Democratic congressman, Tim Ryan, who represents a district southwest of Cleveland that includes Youngstown.

The coalition’s priorities include ending what it calls “subsidies that support processed junk food.” The group also says it wants to increase working conditions in farming and the food industry and ensure that agricultural policy helps farms of all sizes.

The coalition will hold a similar event next week for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and also is promoting its message up until Election Day through a food truck that will travel around the country. The organizations behind the group include the Union of Concerned Scientists and Food Policy Action.

Actress-farmer warns on trade. An unlikely spokesperson for agriculture surfaced during the convention last night. Soap opera actress Kimberlin Brown, who has an avocado farm in California, made the case that farmers as well as other small business owners are both struggling to make a living under the burden of government regulations.

She also told the delegates that she’s learned about the downside of trade agreements. “I’ve seen first hand our domestic markets flooded with imports that harmed local farmers and even drove some out of business. My neighbors, who have raised this product for years, are being forced to cut down their groves.”

Heritage likes GOP platform’s position on farm bill. Daren Bakst, who analyzes farm policy for the Heritage Foundation, was pleased to see that the Republican platform advocates splitting nutrition programs from the rest of the farm bill.

Kelly Armstrong, a North Dakota delegate who co-chaired the subcommittee that wrote the platform’s section on agriculture and energy, tells Agri-Pulse that the recommendation is aimed at getting the farm bills passed more easily. The thinking is that tying food stamps to farm bills makes it harder to pass them, Armstrong says.

But Bakst likes the idea of splitting the farm bill because he believes it would then be easier to force the Agriculture committees to make changes in farm spending as well as in the nutrition program. Heritage will be rolling out a new policy paper on agricultural risk management in September.

For more on the platform, be sure and read this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter. 

Obama, Vilsack headline global development forum. President Obama will get a chance today to tout his legacy on agriculture development and other foreign aid initiatives. Obama will keynote a global development forum in Washington. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will take part in a panel discussing the president’s Feed the Future initiative.

Congress recently passed the Global Food Security Act, which will provide the first congressional authorization for Feed the Future. The bill is waiting for the president’s signature.

Lesser prairie chicken hops off list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is formally removing the lesser prairie-chicken from the endangered species list, 10 months after a federal judge determined that USFWS had illegally designated the bird as “threatened.” The decision was applauded by listing opponents, including Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., and lamented by environmentalists, who fear that absent federal protection, the bird will slide toward extinction.

U.S. District Judge Robert Junell had ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately consider the impact of state conservation plans. But Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with the group WildEarth Guardians, said the states’ voluntary conservation plans “do little to address the threat of fracking, livestock grazing and industrial agriculture.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it’s “undertaking a thorough re-evaluation of the bird’s status and the threats it faces.”

He said it. “Our next Supreme Court justice will determine the future of American agriculture policy, the future of all of our laws in this nation in terms of judging them, for a generation.” - Texas beef producer and GOP convention delegate Eric Opiela, telling Agri-Pulse that the most important issue in the election for agriculture is control of the Supreme Court. See the whole interview here.

Spencer Chase and Steve Davies contributed to this report.


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