Election 2020: The Upside for Agriculture

Regardless of the election outcome, Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer and Farm Journal’s John Herath say there are potential positives and negatives for agriculture in either a Trump or Biden presidency.
Regardless of the election outcome, Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer and Farm Journal’s John Herath say there are potential positives and negatives for agriculture in either a Trump or Biden presidency.
(Farm Journal)

Will you be voting policy or personality this election? As Chip Flory said on AgriTalk, there’s a big separation among farm and ranch voters between policy and personality this election, and farmers and ranchers are looking at policy.  

According to the latest Farm Journal Pulse Poll, 85% of ag respondents plan to vote to re-elect President Donald Trump.

Regardless of the election outcome, Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer and Farm Journal’s John Herath say there are potential positives and negatives for agriculture in either a Trump or Biden presidency. They shared their thoughts in the DC Signal to Noise Podcast on Friday.

“There are pluses and minuses with each candidate, whether he or she be at the presidential level, representative level or the senate level,” Wiesemeyer says. “And that's what elections are all about.”

As an analyst and reporter, Wiesemeyer tries to connect dots as far as where things may go relative to policy in the agribusiness sector. Some believe that ag-related programs shouldn’t discuss politics, but both Herath and Wiesemeyer argue policy is critical in the business of agriculture. 

“What both frustrates and amuses me as analysts, is that if we say that something Trump did was a beneficial move for him, all of a sudden, it's ‘Oh, you're just promoting Trump.’ Or if we say something was positive or negative for Biden, we'll get the same kind of reaction,” Herath points out. “It's like, ‘No, we're not saying that. We're just saying that this particular instance of this particular move was either beneficial or not beneficial to their campaign.”

Wins for Agriculture
The overall ideology of the two political parties are undeniably different when it comes to agriculture. However, Herath says it's important to highlight that there are wins for agriculture, no matter if Trump wins or if Biden wins. 

•    Climate Change: The parties will have major difference of opinions relative to how they will implement any climate change provisions, Wiesemeyer says. 

“I think that really plays into the next revenue stream for agriculture that I actually see bipartisan support for,” he says. “Because eliminating CO2 emissions on the one hand, could result in regulations that are costly for producers to meet – driving up cost in a very energy-intensive sector.”

But on the flip side, the revenue-generating side is that for carbon credits and other things that agriculture can contribute, to get a revenue stream in place to offset the costs.

•    Trade Policy: Wiesemeyer thinks Biden would be very cautious his first year or so on trade policy, very similar to Trump with the exception Biden would be far more positive relative to the World Trade Organization in wanting to get back into its good graces. 

“I know that he eventually wants to get back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now called the CPTPP,” Wiesemeyer says.

However, Wiesemeyer says they are very similar regarding China – the one exception being Biden consistently says he wants to consult more with allies, whereas Trump says both Republican and Democrat administration in the past tried that and it failed. Wiesemeyer doesn’t see that changing.

•    Tax Policy: When it comes to tax policy, he believes Trump would want to at least propose further tax cuts and zeroing in on the middle-class sector this time. 

“If Biden were to win, and Congress is Democrat in tone, you would see an increase in corporate taxes, capital gains taxes that would impact more than a few farmers and possible changes in estate taxes relative to lower exemptions and the basis more along the lines of capital gains taxes,” Wiesemeyer says.

•    Farm Policy: It all depends on who becomes the Senate and House Ag Committee Chairman because they really write the Farm Bill, Wiesemeyer says. 

“Who's going to lead the Senate Ag Committee – will it be John Bozeman from Arkansas, who would take over from Pat Roberts because he's retiring, if the Republicans keep control of the Senate? If not, then it's back to Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, and she's a known commodity. But what a difference. 

“Stabenow is known for changing farm policy relative to more urban agriculture, specialty crops, etc. She's not nearly as southern-oriented in her focus – that’s an understatement there. Bozeman says he wants to start the debate of the Farm Bill next year, but he doesn't want to rewrite it next year, because it just takes time.”

Who’s in Control?
Regardless of who wins the election, who controls the Senate is going to be very important for either Trump or Biden. What the president can do will largely be dictated by which party controls the chambers in Congress, especially the Senate.

“Their policies have to be approved. And even if the Democrats were to regain the Senate, by what margin? Margin is going to be very important in the Senate, especially for Biden. We know that a 50/50 vote, the Vice President breaks ties, but even with a 51/49 or a 52/48, Biden may still have trouble because there's going to be a couple of moderate Democrats in the Senate that may not like some of the proposals coming out from the more left wing of the Democratic Party,” Wiesemeyer says.

Election-Night Coverage
Pro Farmer is teaming up with AgWeb and AgriTalk and a few guest commentators to participate in a live streaming commentary on Election Night beginning at 9 p.m. CT on what is known and not known about ballot results. The live stream will be available on both AgWeb.com and ProFarmer.com.

To prepare for the myriad number of races, we have put together some “dashboard” graphics and information detailing key issues and races for the White House, Senate and House. The following are links to those pdf documents, which will be updated as new information becomes available.
Link to White House race
Link to Senate races
Link to House races


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