WASHINGTON, July 21, 2016 - Donald Trump will be addressing what his sure to be a huge national audience tonight when he makes his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention. Trump still has some work to do in unifying the party, which was made clear last night when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was booed off the stage after a speech in which he failed to endorse Trump. 

One message from Trump that could unify the party and appeal to those in agriculture is to emphasize the importance of putting conservatives on the Supreme Court, said Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith. “Everywhere I go the most common concern is the Supreme Court. Whether it’s agriculture, and some of these issues we see with ‘waters of the U.S.’ and other issues in the court system, it touches everything.”

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, gave an acceptance speech last night that was heavy on issues of national security. He avoided the issue of trade, where he has sharply disagreed with Trump.

Trump forming ‘all-star’ farm team. The Trump campaign is promising to have a policy paper on agriculture out in the next two weeks along with a list of agribusiness leaders who are backing the billionaire. A top policy adviser to Trump, Sam Clovis, tells Agri-Pulse that Trump’s the advisory council will be made up of an “all-star cast of people in agriculture.”

Clovis said the effort is aimed both at energizing rural voters and raising money from agribusiness. About 15 to 20 leaders from farm groups and others were on a recent conference call with the campaign.

Nebraska cattle breeder Charles Herbster announced the effort at yesterday’s Great American Farm Luncheon near the convention site. Trump “understands that we need to revitalize rural America,” Herbster said “We cannot let rural America wither and die – he understands that.”

Conaway: Vilsack would make it more difficult for Trump. Reports continue to swirl that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is a finalist to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. It’s thought that Vilsack could help Clinton in key swing states, including Iowa, where he was governor, and Pennsylvania, where he grew up. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, who spoke at the agribusiness luncheon, agrees that Vilsack would help Clinton in rural areas. 

“I don’t know that she could pick a better person than Tom Vilsack to be her running mate. That would make it tough,” Conaway told Agri-Pulse’s Spencer Chase. 

Conaway argues for farm bill, not Trump. Conaway used his speech to the farm luncheon to make his case that the current farm bill is working and to deliver an extended warning about what the chairman sees as deteriorating moral conditions in the country.

Conaway didn’t mention Trump, but he told Agri-Pulse that he still supports him. “If you say the same thing over and over and over, it gets repetitive.” During the luncheon, Conaway was seated near Clovis, the Trump adviser, who said Conaway asked to talk to him about farm policy.

Conaway told the crowd he’ll evaluate any proposed changes to the farm bill on the basis of how they would affect food prices. 

Fudge: Keep the farm bill together. Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a senior Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee, says the GOP platform’s call for splitting the farm bill is a bad idea because it will make the legislation harder to pass. “Those people who live in urban cores are not going to support the farm bill” if nutrition programs are left out of it, she said. “If you separate them it would be the most destructive thing you could do.”

Fudge, who represents a largely African-American district between Cleveland and Akron, came to the convention area yesterday morning for an appearance at the MSNBC booth near Quicken Loans Arena. Fudge is a member of the subcommittee that oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Conaway, for his part, told Agri-Pulse that the platform was only a “guide” and that he hadn’t read the agriculture provision.

Sharecropper’s son boosts Trump. Several speakers at the GOP convention are using their agriculture backgrounds to prove their populist roots. Harold Hamm, the chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, an Oklahoma-based oil producer, assured the delegates last night that he wasn’t just a well-to-do supporter of Trump. Hamm said he’s the 13th child of a sharecropper who was inspired by a vocational agriculture teacher. “My first memories are picking cotton barefoot,” he said. 

On Tuesday, the convention heard from soap opera actress Kimberlin Brown, who has an avocado farm in California, and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who said she was raised on a cattle farm and married to a row crop farmer.

‘Bachelor’ helps out ethanol. Agriculture’s most eligible bachelor has been making his way around the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week. Former Bachelor contestant Chris Soules is helping Growth Energy promote the ethanol industry to convention attendees. 

USDA finalizing snack rules. USDA today will announce final regulations for school snacks, the latest rules being issued under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. USDA officials say the rules will ensure consistent messaging and marketing for foods and beverages in schools. The regulations include a rule on local school wellness policies. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the rule will force schools “to stop marketing junk food.”

She said it: “This election is incredibly critical for how we decide which mindset is going to be in place in the management of the most critical resource in California, which has a direct effect on our daily life, our public health and our food supply as a state and a nation.” - California GOP delegate Aubrey Bettencourt. She is executive director of the California Water Alliance. View the rest of her remarks at agri-pulse.com.


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