Presidential Candidates on Agriculture: Donald Trump |

Presidential Candidates on Agriculture: Donald Trump

by Amanda Radke
for Tri-State Livestock News

In the fifth and final installment of the Tri-State Livestock News’ presidential candidate features, we explore Republican candidate Donald Trump’s positions on.

Here’s what ranchers need to know about Trump’s take on key issues that would impact agriculture in the future:

1. Keystone Pipeline

“Well, let me just tell you about eminent domain because almost all of these people ac-tually criticize it, but so many people have hit me with commercials and other things about eminent domain,” said Trump at the eighth Republican presidential primary de-bate held on Feb. 6. “Eminent domain is an absolute necessity for a country, for our country. Without it, you wouldn’t have roads, you wouldn’t have hospitals, you wouldn’t have anything. You wouldn’t have schools, you wouldn’t have bridges. You need emi-nent domain. And a lot of the big conservatives that tell me how conservative they are — I think I’m more than they are — they tell me, oh — well, they all want the Keystone Pipe-line. The Keystone Pipeline, without eminent domain, it wouldn’t go 10 feet, OK? You need eminent domain. And eminent domain is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

“Donald Trump’s only stated positions on farming put him directly in the pocket of Big Ag. He confuses pro-business corporatism with pro-market free enterprise. His full-throated support for the ethanol mandate puts no room between him and Hillary, who has never met a corporate handout she didn’t like.” Tim Carney, Washington Examiner

In an interview with Greta Van Sustern on FOX News in January 2012, Trump called President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline “disgraceful.” Trump added, “Frankly, we don’t need Canada. We should just be able to drill our own oil. As long as it’s there we certainly should have approved it. It was jobs and cheaper oil. It’s just ab-solutely incredible. I guess President Obama took care of the environmentalists, but it is absolutely terrible. And it is not an environmental problem at all in any way, shape, or form.”

2. Trade

In May 2015, Trump criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying, “Yet again, the politicians are allowing our president to reinforce the lack of respect countries like China and Japan now have for the United States. They will devalue their currency, ex-ploit our trade agreements, continue to destroy our economy and put Americans out of work. Politicians are all talk and no action. Instead of fast tracking TPP, Congress should pass legislation that holds China and Japan accountable for currency manipula-tion. This would send a message to the world that there are consequences for cheating the United States.”

The Donald Trump campaign website promises readers, “When Donald J. Trump is president, China will be on notice that America is back in the global leadership business and that their days of currency manipulation and cheating are over. We will cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete.”

3. Renewable Energy

On August 24, 2012, Trump tweeted that wind turbines were “an environmental & aes-thetic disaster.” A few days later, he tweeted, “Wind turbines threaten the migration of birds. Where’s the outcry?”

Fast forward to 2016 when a supporter of wind energy questioned Trump at the Iowa caucus held earlier this year, Trump said, “Well, I’m okay with it. It’s an amazing thing when you think — you know, where they can, out of nowhere, out of the wind, they make energy.”

On ethanol, Trump showed support of the industry and endorsed farm subsidies along with it.

“The EPA should ensure that biofuel blend levels match the statutory level set by Con-gress under the renewable fuel standard,” said Trump, in a speech given at an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

“You know what? I went out to see some of the folks on the ethanol,” added Trump. “Good stuff and great people, put a lot of people to work out here. I just want to thank them, they’re doing an amazing job. I may just buy a farm and move here. I like it. I love it!”

“I’m okay with subsidies, to an extent,” said Trump at the Iowa caucus. “I don’t like sub-sidies when you have $19 trillion in debt. If oil goes up [in price], it’s great. But if oil stays low, it’s a very tough business.”

4. Immigration Reform

According to Chuck Conner, National Council of Farm Cooperatives president, an esti-mated 1.4 million undocumented immigratns work on U.S. farms each year, which is about 60 percent of the agricultural labor force.

“I have a very hardline position, we have a country or we don’t have a country,” said Trump at the fifth GOP primary debate held on Dec. 15, 2015. “People that have come into our country illegally, they have to go. They have to come back into through a legal process. I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they’re properly constructed. I know how to build, be-lieve me, I know how to build. I feel a very, very strong bind, and really I’m bound to this country, we either have a border or we don’t. People can come into the country, we wel-come people to come but they have to come in legally.”

Trump gained major media attention when he proclaimed that Mexico should pay for the wall. According to his campaign website, “For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). The costs for the United States have been extraordinary: U.S. taxpayers have been asked to pick up hundreds of billions in healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs, etc. Indeed, the annual cost of free tax credits alone paid to illegal immigrants quadrupled to $4.2 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States back to Mexico ($22 billion in 2013 alone). In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up.”

5. Thoughts on American agriculture in general

“Farms have a tremendous, tremendous future but are very much a bull-bust market,” said Trump in a speech given to Iowa farmers. “I’ve known some farmers that have had tremendous times and some terrible times. I’ve known some farmers that have gone through hell and some of those same farmers have done very well later on. So you have a boom-bust mentality.”

Trump hasn’t dialed in specifically on many agricutlural policies, leaving many to guess on where he might stand. Tim Carney writes for the Washington Examiner saying, “Donald Trump’s only stated positions on farming put him directly in the pocket of Big Ag. He confuses pro-business corporatism with pro-market free enterprise. His full-throated support for the ethanol mandate puts no room between him and Hillary, who has never met a corporate handout she didn’t like.”

In case you missed the first four installments of the presidential series, go to to read more about Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (now out of the race), as well as Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.