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.
For additional information on Clinton, go to http://election16.fb.org/hillary-clinton/. For more on Trump, go to http://election16.fb.org/donald-trump/. Follow all the election news from agriculture’s perspective on Farm Bureau’s blog at http://election16.fb.org/.
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.”
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. A full-list of members of my Agriculture Advisory Committee is available at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/trump-campaign-announces-agricultural-advisory-committee.
“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, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-address-on-immigration.
“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.”
Agriculture is a growing provider of renewable energy—contributing to America’s energy independence and revitalizing rural economies. Will your support federal policies that encourage the production and use of farm-grown fuel stocks and renewable energy?
“Yes. I support the use of domestic energy sources including farm-grown fuel stocks such as ethanol. We will implement an America First Energy Plan that enables the United States to become the world's dominant leader in energy production and gets the government out of the way of innovation among all forms of energy. My administration will develop a regulatory and legislative roadmap to:
- Restore the important role of U.S. coal in the American economy.
- Rescind Obama's executive actions and regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, illegal, or contrary to the national interest, including the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the US rule.
- Lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas.
- Support the Keystone XL Pipeline and other important energy infrastructure projects.
- Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies.
- Ensure affordable, reliable, clean electricity from coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, and other domestic sources.
- Encourage the use of free-market principles in energy policy instead of the federal government choosing winners and losers.
- End U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement and stop payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs.
- Select top officials at the Energy Department, FERC, NRC, EPA, Interior Department, and other relevant federal agencies who will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, implement policies that are consistent with an America First energy plan, and not seek to use their power to push an extreme environmental agenda.”
“Rural America is a leader in energy production -- helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our economy more resilient. Renewable fuels can also play an important role in reducing carbon pollution. Rural innovators are finding new ways to produce low-carbon biofuels, using feedstocks ranging from algae to agricultural waste, with a wide range of transportation applications. And electricity generated from wind and solar energy can improve air quality, help achieve attainment of Clean Air Act standards, and lower taxpayers’ pollution control costs.
America’s farm communities are already playing a critical role in renewable energy production. For example, 99 percent of all wind production occurs in rural counties -- attracting more than $100 billion in new investment and providing an important supplementary source of income to family farms. Meanwhile, electricity prices have fallen by 10 percent for American families and businesses in real terms.
As president, Hillary will work to build on this progress, including by launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to forge new federal partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities across the country, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to cut emissions and expand clean energy. This includes expanding the Rural Utilities Service and other successful USDA energy programs and ensuring the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle, in getting low-cost wind and other renewable energy from rural communities to the rest of the country, and helping electric coops capture the clean energy and energy efficiency opportunities of the 21st century. Hillary will also defend the Clean Power Plan, which the EPA estimates will deliver between $55 billion and $93 billion in annual economic and public health benefits by 2030, with Americans’ electricity bills falling by between 7% and 8%.
Hillary will invest in advanced biofuels research and development, double loan guarantees made through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, support the expansion of blender pumps and combat efforts by oil companies to limit consumer access to cleaner renewable fuels. She also is committed to getting the RFS back on track to effectively drive the development of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels.”
Food quality and safety are vital concerns for consumers and farmers and ranchers. Consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, but their views are often influenced by misinformation and a lack of understanding of agriculture. How would you ensure that farmers and ranchers have the necessary freedom to operate while working to meet consumers’ demands for a variety of food choices, whether organic or conventional, meat or vegetarian, local or the household-name products many of us grew up with and still enjoy thanks to our major national food makers? There is no one size fits all in agriculture. Would you ensure that regulations do not restrict consumers’ or farmers’ food and production choices?
“The Trump Administration will be a pro-agriculture Administration. As President, I will fight for American farmers and their families. Through hard work, persistence and innovation, and making wise use of our nation's God-given lands and resources, American farmers are the best in the world at growing the food and other products that people need to flourish. Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation’s farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again. Too often, bad policies and needless government mandates harm farmers and make food and farm products more costly for consumers. I support, and will implement, policies that are good for farmers and consumers. For example, I oppose unwarranted government mandates that hurt farmers and confuse consumers, such as mandatory biotech labeling. I will also fight for tax reform that reduces tax burdens on American farmers. We will end the death tax. I will reverse the EPA's war on farmers by rescinding the Waters of the US rule, climate rule, and the host of other regulations that are harming farmers without helping the environment. I will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will defend the 2nd Amendment. Hillary Clinton will appoint justices who will eviscerate 2nd Amendment rights. Most importantly, we will get the entire U.S. economy growing again, which will be a boon to the Agriculture sector as well.”
“Due to the ingenuity of America’s farmers and ranchers, consumers across the world have access to better, safer, and a wider variety of food options than ever before. Hillary Clinton believes that supporting that ingenuity goes hand in hand with ensuring food quality and safety.
That’s why, as president, Hillary will fight to increase our investment in the basic and applied research that makes agricultural advancements possible. She will also fight to ensure that America's farmers and ranchers of all sizes have the tools they need to succeed. That means expanding access to capital; investing in rural transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure; and continuing to make progress in targeting federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs.
Hillary also believes we should work to build a strong local and regional food system by doubling funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. By expanding food hubs and farmers markets, increasing access to fresh food, and encouraging direct sales to local schools, hospitals, retailers and wholesalers, we can increase consumer access to food and support American farmers and ranchers.”
There is no one size fits all in agriculture. Would you ensure that regulations do not restrict consumers’ or farmers’ food and production choices?
“As president, Hillary will always engage a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, to hear their concerns and ideas for how we can ensure our rural communities and our agriculture sector remain vibrant. If there are implementation challenges with a particular regulation, Hillary will work with all stakeholders to address them.”
Endangered Species Act
Privately owned land provides habitat for the majority of our nation’s endangered and threatened species. As a result, landowners often face harsh regulatory restrictions on their ability to use the land or, worse, lawsuits or enforcement actions. Meanwhile, few species have actually been recovered under the law. It’s time to think about incentive-based programs that create a positive role for landowners in species recovery. The law is overdue for review and revamping. As president, how would you fix the broken Endangered Species Act, and what role would you assign America’s landowners?
“America is blessed with abundant natural resources and beautiful wildlife. Our nation has a proud tradition of conservation and stewardship. This is more true for farmers than anyone else. Farmers care more for the environment than the radical environmentalists. Regrettably, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has a poor track record of actually helping to recover animals at risk of extinction. In truth, the ESA has become a tool to block economic development, deny property rights to American landowners, and enrich activist groups and lawyers. Instead of saving endangered species, the Obama-Clinton bureaucrats are endangering American workers with disastrous choices made at the whim of extreme activist groups.
As President, I will direct the Interior Department and Commerce Department to conduct a top-down review of all Obama Administration settlements, rules, and executive actions under the Endangered Species Act and other similar laws, and we will change or rescind any of those actions that are unlawful, bad for American farmers and workers, or not in the national interest. I will also work closely with Congress to improve and modernize the Endangered Species Act—a law that is now more than 30 years old—so that it is more transparent, uses the best science, incentivizes species conservation, protects private property rights, and no longer imposes needless and unwarranted costs on American landowners.”
“Hillary knows that America’s ranchers and farmers are proud stewards of their lands, and that America’s wildlife depend on the health of working lands to survive and thrive. That is why she will increase both the availability and accessibility of funding to incentivize voluntary private conservation. For example, Hillary will work to fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will instruct her Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “one-stop shop” to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that can provide financial support for their conservation practices, including securing additional access for sportsmen, including hunters.
Hillary also believes that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction and need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. To this end, Hillary will propose nearly doubling the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to $100 million per year. This type of support for the voluntary conservation of at-risk wildlife can help reduce the need for species to receive the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For wildlife that are listed as threatened or endangered, Hillary will direct federal agencies to take full advantage of the flexible tools available under the ESA that respect and accommodate landowner interests, including safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation agreements, and other forms of voluntary conservation measures.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has clear direction from both Congress and the Supreme Court on the limitations of its authority under the Clean Water Act, and yet the agency continues to push the limits or ignore them completely. What would you do as president to ensure that the EPA acts within the bounds of the Clean Water Act?
“First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional “Waters of the US” rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations. This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property. I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. To be clear, my Administration will work to ensure clean water for all Americans while also restoring the proper limits of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama-Clinton team, my Administration will work cooperatively with the States—most of which have been completely ignored by EPA under the Obama Administration—to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals.”
“The Clean Water Act is one of our most successful environmental regulations, helping fulfill the basic right of all Americans to accessing clean water. Not too long ago our rivers were literally on fire, and polluters were free to dump toxic chemicals at will. The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law.”
Clean Air Act
Greenhouse gas regulations that would raise farmers’ cost of production or impose a carbon tax would put American farmers and other businesses at a competitive disadvantage to farmers and businesses in other countries that would face fewer regulations while continuing to pollute the planet. How would you ensure that clean air and climate regulations are within the scope of federal agencies’ statutory authority and do not hamper American productivity and competitiveness?
“I strongly oppose the extreme, climate alarmism agenda of the Obama-Clinton years. Too often, the Obama-Clinton team imposed billions of dollars in environmental costs on American citizens without achieving real environmental benefits. In fact, the Obama EPA cut funding to the States for water infrastructure and programs that help rural communities while increasing spending on EPA bureaucrats, lawyers, and UN climate programs. As President, I will rescind the Climate Action Plan (including the Clean Power Plan) and other excessive regulations issued under the Clean Air Act that impose unjustified costs on American workers and farmers. My administration will work cooperatively with the States to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals. Affordable energy is critical to the success of American farmers. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama-Clinton climate agenda will cost the U.S. over $5 trillion. We cannot afford to allow the Obama-Clinton policies of high energy costs and overreaching regulations to continue any longer.”
“Hillary Clinton rejects the false choice between strengthening our economy and protecting our
environment and climate. This is particularly true in light of the historic Paris Climate Agreement reached last December, in which all countries committed to take national action to cut their carbon pollution. As President, Hillary will go beyond the agreement made in Paris, cutting our emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
As President, Hillary will work to make the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century, and build off the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change while protecting kids’ health, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs.
Over the past seven years, the amount of wind power in the US has grown threefold and the amount of solar power has grown 30-fold. Renewable energy is now the fastest growing source of job creation in the country. America’s farm communities have played a critical role in this progress with 99% of utility-scale wind production occurring in rural areas, attracting more than $100 billion in private investment. Meanwhile, electricity prices have fallen by 10% for American families and businesses in real terms.
Landmark vehicle standards under the Clean Air Act are reducing US oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and saving the average driver $130 to $180 a year. The Renewable Fuel Standard is cutting US oil dependence and carbon pollution even more.
As President, Clinton will work to build on this progress, including by launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to forge new federal partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed. This includes expanding the Rural Utilities Service and other successful USDA energy programs and ensuring the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle, in getting low-cost wind and other renewable energy from rural communities to the rest of the country, and helping electric coops capture the clean energy and energy efficiency opportunities of the 21st century.”
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.”