Trump-Pence’s food, farm, and agricultural policy record

Given the unexpected result of the presidential campaign, I considered a post on emotional eating for readers, and perhaps I will make such a post later this week. For the time being: breathe.

Right now though, let’s focus on food policy. What do we now know about the likely shape of Trump-Pence food, farm, and ag policy?

To get some idea, I have compiled a digest of a sample of the available material on the statements, positions, and probable agricultural appointments of the upcoming Trump-Pence presidency.

Before we continue, I should note that although I have not thoroughly reviewed Clinton’s statements, her policies are likely to have been pretty similar: slightly more liberal but not radically so. It is not likely that Hillary would have significantly overhauled the agricultural and food sectors, and it is not likely that Trump will either.

Without further ado, Donald Trump has expressed the following views:

Animal rights
* Expresses skepticism about animal rights. (AG)

Environment, climate change, government regulation
* Sued unsuccessfully to block building of wind turbines in Scotland, claiming would mar view from golf course. (AG)
* Claims that government regulations are stealth taxes, to raise revenue. (AG)
– Claims that climate change is a hoax to raise taxes. (AG)
* In 2000 book, The America We Deserve, claims biggest threat to American dream is regulations. (AG)
* Expressed concerns about water shortages. (P)
* Denied that there was drought in California in 2016. (FC)
* Blamed California drought on environmentalists. (FC)
* Endorses elimination of Waters of U.S. rule, implying opposition to water conservation; appointment of pro-ag EPA administrator. (FF)
* Claims that “farmers care more for the environment than radical environmentalists.” (FF)
* Expresses opposition to Endangered Species Act. (FF)

Farm bill, farm policy
* Expressed strong support for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol; this implies support for corn industry and subsidies. (AG)
* Claims “I support a strong safety net for our nation’s farmers”, again implying support for farm subsidies, insurance. (FF)
* 05/16, Expressed great reluctance to “attempting to change any part of the RFS”. (B)
* 08/16, wants to end EPA regulation of farmers, including water regulation; wants to decrease taxes on farmers; implies that “family farm tradition in Iowa” is “thriving and flourishing.” (B)
* Endorses crop insurance. (B)
* Endorses view that agriculture is about national security, not food, implying opposition to progressive food. (B)
* Wants farm bill to be “written by those who are thankful for our remarkable food system in this country”, implying opposition to progressive food. (FF)
* In explicit context of agriculture, claims desire to abolish estate tax, which only applies to estates of $5.45 million or more (affecting only about 20 small American farms), implying increased support for America’s largest industrial farms. (TF)
* Opposes raising taxes on farmers with income of more than $5 million, implying support for gigantic farms (only 12% of American farms). (PF)

* Has blamed biotech corn for sliding pull numbers. (AG)
* Suspicious about Monsanto’s products, Tweeted concern about health effects. (AG)
* Apologized for above Tweet, blamed on intern. (AG)

Immigration, labor
* Has called for mass deportation of illegal immigrants. (AG)
* Claims no opposition to immigrant labor; wants it to be legal. (AG)
* Expressed skepticism in 2013 about path to citizenship; claimed would hurt Republican electoral demographics. (AG)
* In 2000, claimed that legal immigration process should be more challenging. (AG)
* Rejects that children of immigrant workers are citizens if born in United States. (AG)

* Rejects Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal; this implies support for domestic production of food. (AG)

Agricultural policy appointees
* Seeks to appoint mainstream, establishment Republican agricultural advisers; if maintained, these proposed appointments imply long-term commitment to industry interests and viewpoints. (P)
* Such viewpoints include: ready availability of immigrant labor, support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (P)
* Selected cattle “farmer” Charles Herbster to lead ag and rural advisory committee; Herbster’s primary ag concern is “reducing regulation”. (B)
* Herbster has received half a million dollars in agricultural subsidies over past 20 years; his company sells pesticide additives called adjuvants and synthetic fertilizers; this implies that Herbster will advise Trump to pursue compatible policies. (MJ)
* Herbster endorses free trade deals on agricultural products. (MJ)

Here’s Pence, regarded by many as Trump’s big ticket to rural and farm state credibility, due to heavy involvement in farm policy in Indiana:

* Has voted for subsidy increases. (B)
* Voted for 2008 bill, supported GWB’s veto, due to “too much spending.” (PJ)
* Voted against 2012 farm bill. (IFN)
* Reversed his support in 2012 for 2002 farm bill, calling support a mistake. (IFN)
* Has expressed consistent, strong support for free trade agreements. (JS)
* When chosen as VP candidate, the Ag-Pulse reports rave reviews of Pence from the agricultural industry:

“Don Villwock, who recently retired after more than a decade as president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, says he’s been impressed in his dealings with Pence, both as a governor and a congressman.

“He is truly agriculture’s dream candidate,” Villwock said of Pence in an email to Agri-Pulse. Villwock described himself as “a big Mike Pence fan,” adding that Pence understood and supported many facets of agriculture from small farms to large agribusinesses. “He is a good listener and seeks input on issues from all commodity groups,” Villwock said.

Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance, also speaks well of Pence. In a statement, she said Pence “has been a good leader for Indiana agriculture during his time at the Statehouse.” (AG2)

And that’s it for Pence/Trump food, farm, and ag policy. We’re likely only to get more details as Trump establishes a record. However, assuming he listens to his proposed advisory appointees, it seems likely that food, farm and ag policy will remain much the same, with some modifications, but also, likely, some deregulation of the agricultural sector. In other words, an unsurprisingly conservative food, farm, and ag policy.

We’ll keep you updated.

Interested in discussing more about food, farm, and ag policy? Join us at

Information culled from:
Agri-Pulse (AG), on food and agricultural policy-related statements of Donald Trump:
Agri-Pulse (AG2), on Pence’s choice for VP candidate:
Politico, (P) on food and ag advisory appointees:
Ballotpedia (B), on appointees and food and agricultural policy-related statements:
FactCheck (FC), on Trump’s drought claims:
Mother Jones (MJ), on Herbster, Trump’s ag appointee:
Farm Futures (FF), on ag policy statements:
The Federalist (TF), on ag policy statements:
PolitiFact (PF), on ag policy statements:
Ink Free News (IFN), on Pence’s ag policy record:
Journal Star (JS), on Pence’s ag record:

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