Presidential candidates talk ag |

Presidential candidates talk ag

Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers the most. We asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump the same questions.

Both candidates explained their positions on biotechnology, trade, immigration reform, regulatory reform, food safety and more. That the candidates took the time in the throes of this very competitive election season to go into such detail in their responses says as much about the importance of these issues and the farmers and ranchers who care about them as it does about Clinton’s and Trump’s political platforms.

Regulatory reform

As president, what actions will you take to minimize the federal government’s regulatory burden on businesses such as farming and ranching? Will you support regulatory reform to ensure that federal regulations pass a cost-benefit test and make the process of writing new regulations more transparent?


“Our nation’s regulatory system is completely broken. Terrible rules are written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who often know nothing about the people they are regulating. The regulators have all of the power, and our nation’s farmers are often forced to endure costly, burdensome, and unwise regulations that are bad for American farmers and consumers. In many instances, extreme environmental groups have more influence in setting the regulations than the farmers and ranchers who are directly impacted. Hillary Clinton will do the bidding of the radical environmentalists. Whether through excessive land-use restrictions that impact farmers and ranchers, environmental requirements that impose enormous costs on farmers, or over-reaching food product regulations, federal regulatory burdens have increased dramatically in recent years. This must change.

As President, I will work with Congress to reform our regulatory system. We will reduce the power of government bureaucrats, and increase the freedom of our nation’s farmers to be as productive as possible. We will increase transparency and accountability in the regulatory process. Rational cost-benefit tests will be used to ensure that any regulation is justified before it is adopted. Unjustified regulations that are bad for American farmers and consumers will be changed or repealed. There will be no more “sue and settle” deals with extreme environmentalists.”


“Hillary is committed to operating the U.S. government in as open and transparent a way as possible. She will continue and expand the open-government initiatives started by the current Administration and will direct federal agencies to increase the amount of information they voluntarily disclose online.

As president, she will always engage a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, to hear their concerns and ideas for how we can ensure our agriculture sector remains vibrant. If there are implementation challenges with a particular regulation, Hillary will work with all stakeholders to address them.”

Farm Bill

Federal farm programs and crop insurance provide an important safety net and risk management tool for farmers and ranchers, as well as consumers. Farm programs help keep America’s farmers growing, even after a “bad year,” so our consumers can continue to enjoy a plentiful, affordable food supply. It also provides food security for at-risk segments of the consumer population. Our nation is stronger when the alignment between farm and food assistance policies exists.

Farm programs cost less than 1 percent of our entire federal budget, while they keep our nation strong and non-reliant on other countries for our most basic need–food. Yet these long-standing, much reformed programs have been under fire by liberals and conservatives alike. As president, how will you stand with farm and ranch families and consumers to protect these important programs?


“The Trump-Pence Administration will be an active participant in writing the next Farm Bill and delivering it on time! Our farmers deserve a good farm bill written by those who are thankful for our remarkable food system in this country. I support a strong safety net for our nation’s farmers.

“Importantly, I have assembled an Agriculture Advisory Committee comprised of leaders who represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving with them in serving all Americans from the White House.


“Hillary knows the Farm Bill’s reauthorization presents an incredibly important opportunity to set both our agricultural and rural development policy priorities-which are central to our economy, energy, and food security.

That’s why she will work to ensure we provide a focused safety net for farmers and ranchers by continuing to make progress in targeting federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs-which is all the more important with current commodity market prices. She will also support the next generation of farmers by doubling funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program and strengthening USDA grant programs to make them less about bureaucratic buckets and more about funding flexibility, leveraging local resources, and measuring results.

The Farm Bill also provides the opportunity to improve and enhance our rural development programs that are so pivotal to raising the standard of living in many rural communities-including programs to enhance broadband access, improve soil health and manage wastewater, and expand access to credit for small businesses.”

Immigration Reform and Ag Labor

As president, what would you do to advance immigration reform and resolve the critical labor shortage that many farmers and ranchers face each year? How would you address the issue of undocumented workers who are already working on farms across America, as well as the need for a long-term supply of agricultural workers?


“I recognize the unique labor challenges facing the American farm community and will include farmers and ranchers in the process of determining the best possible immigration policies. To be clear, the Obama-Clinton system of open borders is wreaking havoc on our rural communities. Enormous stresses are being placed on state and local government services, while jobs for American citizens and wages for American workers are in decline. Here are my three core principles of real immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

On August 31, 2016, I gave a policy speech in Phoenix, Arizona, where I provided details on my immigration plan. This speech is available for review on my website,


“ Hillary knows that migrant farmworkers play a critical role in developing and supporting our agricultural economy. She has heard from farmers across the country who have expressed their frustrations about our broken immigration system.

That’s why as president, Hillary will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office. It will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy. Hillary understands that the agricultural industry needs comprehensive immigration reform to protect both farm owners and the workers they employ, and ensure American families are able to put affordable, fresh food on their tables.”

International Trade/Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The United States has worked assertively over many different presidencies to set the example for fair and open trade, for resolving trade disputes using sound, science-based principles and standards and for gaining access to new markets. As president, will you be an aggressive proponent for expanding trade and be willing to pursue remedies against nations and their leaders who use various barriers to unfairly shield their markets from competition?

The TPP Agreement would boost U.S. agriculture exports and grow farmers’ and ranchers’ income by more than $4 billion a year. That market growth and income boost is needed more than ever as our farmers face a downturn in commodity prices. Will you support ratification of the TPP Agreement to bring down foreign tariffs, address non-science-based barriers to trade and enable America’s farmers to sell more of their farm goods around the world?


“As President, I will be an aggressive proponent for defending the economic interests of American workers and farmers on the world stage. I will fight against unfair trade deals and foreign trade practices that disadvantage the United States.

“I strongly oppose TPP as drafted and will work hard to develop trade agreements that are in the national interest and benefit American workers including our farmers.”


“Hillary has a long record of standing up to countries like China. She fought against the Chinese when they tried to discriminate against New York companies, and she went toe-to-toe with them as Secretary of State. As president, Hillary will also crack down on foreign countries who cheat the rules by appointing a new trade prosecutor to keep other countries honest, and will use all of our tools to ensure other countries treat our products fairly, including our anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws, and pursuing taking cases at the WTO. Hillary has also established a plan to stop rewarding U.S. companies for moving jobs overseas.”


“For generations, America has been the breadbasket of the world. Hillary believes we can and must forge better trade deals for American workers, farmers, and other businesses. She believes any trade deal must create American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security. Every new trade deal must meet that test. In fact, Hillary opposed the only multilateral trade deal she voted on in the Senate because it didn’t meet that standard. And as soon as the details of the final TPP deal were finalized – including what it contains on currency manipulation and pharmaceuticals – she came out in opposition. It didn’t meet her standard. The TPP also contains a weak “rules of origin” standard on automobiles that gives a backdoor into our markets to countries like China. Hillary has been clear and specific in her opposition to the TPP. She opposes it now, she opposes it in November, and she will not move it forward in January.”


Our future food security will depend on science, technology and innovation to increase efficiency, adapt to droughts and fight plant diseases. Agricultural biotechnology and other new crop development techniques will prove vital. As president, how will you ensure that new traits are reviewed expeditiously, that USDA’s GMO disclosure rules are focused on science and that solutions from science and technology are harnessed to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world?


“ I support the use of technology in food production, which has enabled American farmers to increase yields to levels never before experienced in the history of the world. Through innovation, American farmers are producing crops more resilient to drought, heat, and pests. Government should not block positive technological advancements in agriculture. Agency reviews need to be streamlined with all unnecessary red-tape cut out.”


“ Our goal should be to find policy solutions that are grounded in science and respect consumers. Hillary understands the need for a national solution to the GMO labeling question — one that provides consistency to food companies and consumers across state lines. And she is glad Republicans and Democrats have worked together to build a bipartisan solution to this issue.”

–American Farm Bureau Federation

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