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Getty Images Joe Raedle
<p>Voters will head to the polls for one of the most unusual presidential elections in history. Getty Images/Joe Raedle</p>

Where do Trump and Hillary stand on ag issues? Pick your poison

When it comes to political risk, you’d be hard-pressed to think of a presidential election in modern history that mattered so much to the nation’s ethos, while offering candidates that inspire so little confidence.

Wobbling out of one chute is a political lifer who makes a habit of poor choices, including alleged criminal offenses for which she seems to be beyond the law’s reach.

Roaring, literally, from another is the proverbial dark horse—one with apparently malleable allegiances, who embraces volume and bullying as political strategy.

In between is a hodge-podge of no-names with little chance.

Even some of the usual high-flying political donors cinched their satchels, counting on more opportunity in the Senate elections.

Most of what I’ve seen and heard about the candidates is secondhand. After watching the first few minutes of what was supposed to be a debate, I refused to watch any more.

So, I trolled candidate websites to get a flavor of their views on various ag-related issues. Take it for what it’s worth.

Agriculture: Both support the Renewable Fuels Standard, so both support subsidizing corn-based ethanol. Which means both support continuing to tie the nation’s food and energy policies at the hip.

Trump—At least in his late-August comments in Iowa, Trump made a distinction between agricultural producers and rural economies, and also highlighted agriculture as a cornerstone of national security.

He even has an agricultural advisory committee that includes some names familiar to those in cattle circles. There are 65 people on the committee—65! They’d better know Roberts Rules of Order and have a hard-nosed parliamentarian.

“Almost 97% of farmers in this country are family-owned and family-managed," Trump said. “It’s not only a great American tradition, but it’s a vital component of America’s economic and national security.”

He also told the Iowa crowd that his administration would do away with job-killing regulation, like the Waters of the United States rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. In talking with business owners of all sizes, he said they are more interested in getting rid of mindless government regulations than they are in the tax cuts he proposes.

Speaking of which, Trump said, “We are going to end this war on the American farmer. We are going to lower the tax rate to 15% and stop the double-taxation on family farms at death.”

Clinton—“America’s rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great,” reads Clinton’s issues statement. “The affordability of our food, the independence and sophistication of our energy supply, and the strength of our small communities all depend on a vibrant rural America.”

Her plans for agriculture include such things as:

  • Expand access to equity capital for rural businesses by increasing the number of Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs).
  • Create a national infrastructure bank and invest in infrastructure.
  • Strengthen USDA grant programs.
  • Double-fund the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development programs.
  • Build a strong local and regional food system by doubling the funding to the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program.
  • Fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

As for taxes, according to her site, “Simplify and cut taxes for small businesses… Provide tax relief to working families…” No details.

Health Care: One supports the Affordable Care Act, the other one does not.

Trump—“Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—Obamacare… it is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”

Clinton—“As your president, I want to build on the progress we’ve made (with ACA). I’ll do more to bring down health care costs for families, ease burdens on small businesses, and make sure consumers have the choices they deserve.”

Trade: Both candidates paint their rhetoric regarding trade with hues of populist isolationism. Both oppose the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Not exactly want you want to hear with cattle prices heading south and beef exports mattering more to beef’s potential in the U.S.

Immigration: As vital as border security is—America should have had it long ago—and as appealing as a wall might seem, history suggests all will be breached, from the Great Wall to the Atlantic Wall, no matter who pays for it.

Trump—The three core principles of Trump’s plan for immigration reform:

  • There must be a wall across the southern border.
  • Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
  • Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

Clinton—In addition to promising comprehensive immigration reform, Clinton says she will defend Executive actions taken by President Obama that yielded:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAVA)—a program by which illegal aliens younger than 31, who say they came to the U.S. as a child, can receive a two-year legalization amnesty; most can seek a work permit.
  • Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)—a program for parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. resident who was born on or before Nov. 20, 2014. Parents who lived continuously in the U.S. since or before Jan. 1, 2010 could receive a 3-year work permit and avoid deportation. 26 states are suing the federal government over this one.


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