Trump and Biden: What solutions do they bring to ag?

Presidential candidates offer their stance on 10 agriculture issues, including food security, trade, renewable fuels, regulations and more.


Jacqui Fatka and Holly Spangler, BEEF Magazine

Sep 11, 2020


The long, strange pandemic-ridden election season certainly looks different in 2020. But two things remain the same: Candidates are fielding questions from voters and media, and very few of those questions are about food and agriculture.


But Farm Progress editors want you to hear specifically from this year’s presidential candidates on the issues that are important to rural America. So, we posed the same 10 questions to the campaign teams for the Republican nominee, President Donald Trump, and the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden...


1.    How would you prioritize U.S. food production to improve national security?


Trump: 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 U.S. farmers and ranchers. The Trump-Pence administration negotiated the following significant multilateral trade agreements: Korea, Japan, USMCA [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement] and China Phase 1, negotiating better deals for farmers and ranchers than what was in place previously.


Biden: Our family farmers and ranchers were already fighting an uphill battle because of President Trump’s irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers. We will invest in the next generation of agriculture and conservation; provide opportunities to new farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans and minorities, to enter the economy; and make it easier to pass farms and ranches on to the next generation. We will reinvest in land-grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances.


2.    What is the greatest threat to American agriculture today?


Biden: One of the greatest risks for American agriculture is the impact of extreme weather.  Crop insurance and risk management tools are incredibly important to farmers, especially in light of the most recent windstorm in Iowa, the fires out West, the drought in the Midwest, and Hurricane Laura in Texas and Louisiana. We understand the important role crop insurance plays and will make sure the safety net is there.


Trump: Our ag and food value chain is the envy of the world but faced significant challenges during the COVID outbreak, as retail and food service delivery mechanisms were upended almost overnight. Thankfully, throughout this crisis, we never had a “food supply” problem. The strength of that value chain was bent in ways it never had before, but it never broke, and it has been the privilege of the Trump-Pence administration to leverage government resources to ensure our private sector was able to continue meeting the food needs of all Americans.


3.    What actions will you take to secure trade opportunities for U.S. farmers?


Trump: We know our farmers want markets, they want to grow and produce things to sell here in America and to the world, and they want fair and reciprocal trade deals.


Other countries already know President Trump 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 play by the rules; we will get a bigger deal done with Japan, and 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.


Biden: More than 20% of all crops grown and products raised in the United States are exported, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and helping to stabilize farm income. But America’s farmers and rural communities have paid a heavy price for President Trump’s tariffs. While President Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war without any real strategy, we will stand up to China by working with our allies to negotiate from the strongest possible position.


4.    What are your goals for the Renewable Fuel Standard?

5.    What food chain vulnerabilities were exposed during the pandemic, and how would you address them?

6.    What changes could improve federal health care policy for rural Americans?

7.    Do you anticipate continuing recent ad hoc assistance, including trade payments (Market Facilitation Program) and coronavirus payments (Coronavirus Food Assistance Program) into 2021?

8.    How do you plan to partner with farmers in addressing the changing climate?

9.    Farmers are concerned about balancing regulations. What regulations do you anticipate expanding or rolling back?

10.  In our surveys, farmers say the top priority for the election is “the way Washington operates.” If elected, how do you anticipate changing the way Washington operates?