Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

The State of: the 2020 Election and Afterwards

News / The State October 29, 2020

A lyric from the Grateful Dead song “Truckin’” nicely sums up the 2020 election, to me at least:

“What a long, strange trip it's been”

The campaigns have ebbed and flowed, been combative and enlightening, and highlighted the highs of party unity and lows of party discord. All this in the midst of a pandemic that spurred an economic downturn we’re slowly coming back from; a Supreme Court vacancy, hearing and confirmation; and social justice protests that in some instances turned to riots.

It culminates on Election Day, Nov. 3, the official end of the 2020 campaign cycle.  To date, more than 76 million Americans have already voted and turnout is expected to be the highest in more than 100 years, potentially reaching 150 million voters. If this number is realized, it would be the highest percentage of eligible voters who participated in a national election since 1908, when turnout was 65.7% of the voting-eligible population

After the votes are cast and counted, the shift to governing is relatively abrupt. As with every campaign, the statements, commercials, social media posts and speeches are a lot of hyperbole about what the president can and will do. 

All of the statements and claims made on the campaign trail remind me a lot of the story of the Zen Master and the Little Boy.

The boy’s father bought him a horse for his 14th birthday and everyone in the village said, “Isn’t that wonderful, the boy got a horse?” and the Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”

A couple of years later the boy fell from his horse, badly breaking his leg and everyone in the village said, “How awful, he won’t be able to walk properly.”  The Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”

Then, a war broke out and all the young men had to go and fight, but this young man couldn’t because his leg was still messed up and everyone said, “How wonderful!”  The Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”

The COVID-19 pandemic compelled many of us to not take stocked grocery shelves for granted. Farmers and ranchers experienced enormous losses as the food supply chain adapted to changing demands and pandemic impacts. Agriculture’s role in our national security became much clearer to many, prompting us to consider what investments and/or policies can help ensure the resiliency of our food system?  We’ll see, as the Zen Master in the story would say.

Reliable food supplies and stable prices are critical for the United States’ long-term prosperity and economic well-being. Programs in the farm bill, set to be renewed in 2023, provide key safety net and risk management support for farmers, as well as critical tools to help farmers implement resource-conserving practices on the farm and trade promotion programs that help us build new markets abroad. How will we enhance farm policy programs to bring certainty to farm and ranch families through crop insurance, improved risk management programs and support for beginning farmers and ranchers, while also bringing much-needed funding to trade development and agricultural research?  We’ll see.

Agriculture operates in a world of uncertainty. From unpredictable national situations to commodity and product market instabilities to fluctuating input prices, from natural disasters and damaging weather events to insect or disease outbreaks, running a farm or ranch business is challenging under the best of circumstances. Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that provides certainty and recognizes their unique financial challenges. Will a revised tax policy help farmers and ranchers remain on the land and producing food, fuel and fiber?  We’ll see.

How will we pursue fair and open trade that provides access to new markets for farmers and ranchers and a foundation for resolving trade disputes using sound, science-based principles and standards? We’ll see.

Federal regulations have a direct impact on farmers and ranchers, and over the years, the breadth and depth of that regulatory landscape has changed.  How will the government ensure the regulatory burden on small businesses such as farms and ranches is consistent with congressional intent, meets a cost-benefit test and that the process of writing new regulations is more transparent?  We’ll see.

What will or will not happen, and what either a second-term Trump administration or a new Biden administration will do, cannot be known. We have created the following chart of likely scenarios. Despite all the charts, graphs and analysis generated from the most highly regarded of experts, the most we can say about the election outcome is, we’ll see.

What is certain is Farm Bureau’s commitment to fight for and with America’s farmers and ranchers.  We remain focused on the mission to address the issues impacting rural Americans and those who farm or ranch, work in agriculture or the food industry and for consumers who eat and use American-grown and -raised products.

Resources:

Presidential Questionnaire (www.fb.org/election2020)

2020 Election Toolkit (www.fb.org/vote)


Cody Lyon is managing director of advocacy and political affairs programs

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