March 10, 2016
With the primaries now shaping up and providing a somewhat less murky picture of the 2016 presidential election, the question arises about how agriculture, and particularly the cattle business, will fare under a new president.
I’m not going to discuss a Bernie Sanders presidency, because I have no idea what full-blown socialism would mean to agriculture. Let’s just say that it would be a monumental shift, and that government policy would become not just significant, but the major driver in agriculture if Bernie Sanders were to be elected.
The Democratic and Republican parties are experiencing a similar reaction as both sides of the rank and file are sending a clear message that they hate the status quo and want change. Bernie has been a way to express the party’s outrage, but in the end, the Democrats will wind up with Hillary Clinton, according to experts on both sides of the aisle.
So it is pretty easy to predict what that means. More of the same and at an accelerated pace, especially as it relates to environmental regulations, energy policy being driven by climate change and the growing impact of government not only in the marketplace but the day-to-day management of operations. Depending on your perspective, that is either a good or a bad thing, but a Hillary Clinton presidency promises essentially a continuation of the Obama administration policies relative to agriculture, and most key areas affecting agriculture.
Every banker and economist I know has been predicting higher interest rates for years. They are right that the incredible influx of money being printed, along with other economic factors, should lead to inflationary pressures and rising interest rates. However, we have to look at Europe and Japan, where the combination of socialism and economic policy has generated deficits and economic stagnation, making it almost impossible for interest rates to rise. As crazy as it sounds, if current U.S. policy continues, negative interest rates are as realistic of a guess as a significance rise in rates.
One of the biggest differences in political views is relative to climate change and its impact on energy policy. Both Hillary and Bernie oppose fracking, would aggressively continue policies to move away from fossil fuels and feel that the risk of climate change justifies restricting and restructuring our economy to avoid the impacts.
The Republican field is a bit more varied. Donald calls climate change a hoax, and goes as far as saying it is a myth pushed by the Chinese to steal away our manufacturing and economic base. He essentially rejects the entire global change premise.
Cruz and Rubio believe climate change is occurring but question whether it is a natural phenomenon or man-made, have been actively against subsidizing alternative forms of energy and have been pro-drilling, Keystone Pipeline, fracking, etc. Kasich has a more nuanced approach; he believes in man-made climate change and the problems it creates, but remains a strong supporter of coal, natural gas and oil, believing that it is the lifeblood of our economy and that takes preference over the risk posed by climate change.
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Certainly, there are stark differences between the candidates on nearly all issues. From an agricultural perspective, we should really do our homework on how the candidates stand. We are likely to only have one “establishment” candidate emerge. The positive is that it is pretty easy to predict what a Clinton, Kasich or Rubio presidency would mean—more of the same, just from two different perspectives as it relates to taxes, environmental policy, energy policy and trade. A Trump or Cruz presidency, though, would mark some radical departures from the policies of the Beltway over the last several decades in all of these areas.
This election may be more than moving one way or another by merely a matter of degree. It may mean some entirely new directions.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.
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