Presidential Candidates on Agricultural Issues
The American Farm Bureau has obtained the following responses to ag-related questions asked of the two presidential candidates.
• Joe Biden (D)
We will 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. We must address the continuous efforts to evade and circumvent our trade laws and undermine the effectiveness of our trade cases. The issues of global overcapacity, foreign state-owned enterprises, and other problems undermine our interests and can’t continue. Workers deserve to know that their government will stand by their side and stand up for their rights so they don’t have to fight unfair trade on their own or see their jobs offshored and production outsourced. Foreign cheating will not be allowed in our administration.
• Trump (R)
A major focus of the Trump Administration has been to renegotiate trade deals that were weak and provided inadequate market access and import protection to US farmers and ranchers. Previous Administrations negotiated trade deals that put our farmers and ranchers in a negative position to those that we compete with in foreign markets. To address this, the Trump/Pence Administration negotiated the following significant multilateral trade agreements:
- China phase 1
No one knows better than our nation’s farmers and ranchers that for decades, China has stolen our technology, restricted US foreign investment, manipulated their currencies and kept US farm products out of their market.
China has begun making purchases under the phase 1 commitment, and in a second Trump Administration term China will have to come back to the table for more access to American farmers.
In each of these agreements the Trump/Pence Administration has negotiated better deals for farmers and ranchers than what was in place previously.
The strategy of negotiating key trade deals on a multilateral basis has been a primary focus of the Trump/Pence Administration. While the Obama/Biden Administration negotiated weak trade deals, focusing on multilateral negotiations, the Trump/Pence team negotiated successful trade agreements with the above.
In addition to the new agreements President Trump has negotiated, we have also stood by are farmers when they were targeted by unjust trade retaliation. Other countries, China in particular, thought they could force us to accept more bad trade deals by targeting our farmers. We have taken some of the revenue we received in tariffs and we have provided $28 billion in direct support to those farms and commodities that have been unjustly targeted.
For too many years, American trade policy has allowed other countries to take advantage of us. Joe Biden doesn’t have a plan on trade, he will revert to the Obama-Biden years of letting China take advantage of us.
President Trump is very grateful to the American farmer for their patriotism that enabled him to stand up to the Chinese and be the first president to force them to change their practices that have resulted in the loss of millions of jobs in the U.S. President Trump will never ask the American farmer to bear the cost of our important work to make China play by the same rules as the rest of the world
We know our farmers want markets, they want to grow and produce things to sell here in America and to the world, we also know that they want fair and reciprocal trade deals. The farmers have stood with us as we have taken on these unfair trade practices, and we have stood with them. When President Trump wins a second term, other countries already know he means what he says on trade, and we will continue to see more favorable agreements reached in a second term. There will be more opportunities with China if they decide to take more steps to play by the rules, we will get a bigger deal done with Japan, we are in talks with other major Asian countries. President Trump is also eager to finalize a new U.S.-U.K. Trade agreement that includes significant agriculture access, and hopes that can pave the way for progress with the EU as well, one of the most unfair markets to many of our America farmers.
Endangered Species Act
As president, how would you fix the broken Endangered Species Act, and what role would you assign America’s landowners?
As President, I will uphold the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to ensure the protection of imperiled species and to maintain our nation’s wildlife heritage for future generations. The Act has prevented the extinction of more than 99% of the species it protects but with climate change and other challenges, continued success will require an increasing number of effective partnerships between federal agencies, the states, and private landowners. This includes voluntary agreements with landowners that provide appropriate incentives to improve habitat conditions for listed and at-risk species. I will invest in programs such as Working Lands for Wildlife within the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at USDA that provide incentives, including regulatory certainty, for landowners to engage in voluntary restoration efforts on their lands which create or restore habitats where wildlife thrive and landowners in rural communities can prosper. The Sage Grouse Initiative, developed during the Obama-Biden Administration, is a good example of how our Administration will approach the Endangered Species Act. The Initiative created a productive partnership between the federal and state governments and ranchers to help protect key habitat and avoid the need to list the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered under the ESA.
The Trump Administration worked with farmers and ranchers to improve regulations of the ESA which increased transparency and effectiveness bringing clarity to farmers, ranchers, water users, and landowners in how the law is administrated. The improved regulations among other items, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections, designating critical habitat, and covers consultations with other federal agencies.
In the first term, the Trump Administration recovered and delisted more species under the Endangered Species Act than any other President in their first term.
The Trump Administration has also proposed a definition for the term “habitat” that would be used in the context of critical habitat designations under the ESA, which will further add clarity, and improve partnerships by improving consistency and predictability around critical habitat definitions.
The Trump Administration is committed to science-based conservation with common-sense policy designed to bring the ESA into the 21st Century, while allowing farmers and ranchers to be the most productive on their land. A Biden/Harris Administration will pursue a regulatory policy more like the state of California of fish and birds over farmers and business.
As president, how would you ensure that climate regulations do not hamper American productivity and competitiveness?
Many farmers are some of the best stewards of our land, air, and water. But climate change poses an existential threat to all of us — including farmers. We need to combat climate change, but in doing so can create new opportunities and new sorts of revenues for farmers. The government needs to partner with farmers to accelerate progress toward net-zero emissions. We will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone. Toward this end, a Biden-Harris Administration will dramatically expand and fortify the pioneering Conservation Stewardship Program, created by former Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin, to support farm income through payments based on farmers’ practices to protect the environment, including carbon sequestration. In addition to seeking full federal funding for the program, a Biden-Harris Administration will ensure the program can participate in carbon markets. Corporations, individuals, and foundations interested in promoting greenhouse gas reductions could offset their emissions by contributing to Conservation Stewardship Program payments to farmers for those sequestering carbon — for example, through cover crops. This will not only help combat climate change, but also create additional revenue sources for farmers at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. And, this approach will create a whole series of new businesses that survey, measure, certify, and quantify conservation results. In addition, a Biden-Harris Administration will make a significant investment in research to refine practices to build soil carbon while maximizing farm and ranch productivity. Soil is the next frontier for storing carbon.
Finally, investments in bio-based manufacturing will create new revenue opportunities for farmers and ranchers as they convert ag waste in chemicals, fabrics, fibers, fuels, and other materials. This will increase farm income and create more good-paying manufacturing jobs, particularly in rural America. A Biden-Harris Administration is committed to creating incentive-based partnerships between farmers and the federal government to further sustainable practices and help the climate. We recognize the important role animal agriculture plays in farm income and rural jobs and will be a strong partner to this sector.
President Trump believes that American farmers are the most sustainable in the world and we should be thanking them rather than thinking of new ways to regulate them. Any new sustainability or climate requirements must be science based and not result in tighter profit margins for farmers. This would hurt beginning and smaller farmers the most.
The number one stewards protecting natural resources are our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The Trump/Pence Administration has been strong supporters of increased funding of voluntary conservation programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill that helped farmers protect our precious natural resources, including water quality, while also enhancing soil health.
A Biden Administration will be controlled by environmental activists that would be working from day 1 to implement the Green New Deal which would have devastating impacts on farmers and ranchers.
The Trump/Pence Administration launched the Ag Innovation Agenda earlier this year with the goal of telling the story of agriculture’s contribution to the economy and the environment, starting to set the benchmarks for how the sector can be a part of solutions, not demonized as the problem.
–American Farm Bureau Federation