THE presidential tickets finally have been decided, and indications of where the candidates stand on crucial issues affecting agriculture are beginning to take shape. It remains to be seen what role agriculture will play in this fall's elections and whether rural voters will be highly courted.
Both parties have established teams to help carry their torch.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack may not have received the vice president nod from Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, but he's already using his voice in rural America to promote her as someone who will listen to farmers, noting that "there are going to be circumstances that arise over the next four years where you are going to want someone who listens."
The "Rural for Hillary" efforts are being spearheaded by Trevor Dean, who was an agricultural adviser to Clinton when she was in the Senate.
Heading up Republican Party nominee Donald Trump's rural area task force is Charles Herbster, owner of Herbster Angus Farms and The Conklin Co. in Falls City, Neb., and a personal friend of Trump's for more than a decade. He has said the campaign will focus on reducing regulations, revisiting trade agreements that hurt farmers and getting rid of the estate tax — or, as he put it, the "death tax."
The Republican platform tended to dig deeper into trade and regulations. It even said the farm bill took too long to write and said the nutrition program should be pulled out of it. The Democratic platform had a mere half-page of text on agriculture in the 55-page document, although Clinton previously released a document on how to invest in rural America.
Surprisingly, Clinton and Trump are both against the agriculture lobby's desire to see the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement signed and implemented.
In his acceptance speech, Trump said the TPP deal "will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments." He added that he will "turn our bad trade agreements into great ones," promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and make individual deals with individual countries.
On the campaign trail, Clinton came out opposed to TPP after her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, was opposed to it. However, when Clinton was secretary of state, she advocated for the TPP deal. Her trade adviser said Clinton is against Congress addressing TPP in the lame-duck session or afterwards.
If there's one thing Trump will continue to try to push in farm country, it will be reining in overregulation — a sure-fire way to get cheers from farmers.
The Republican platform blamed the Obama Administration's "sustained additional regulation" for creating higher costs to produce food, saying: "This federal regulatory overreach has resulted and will continue to result in higher food prices for Americans."
The platform referred to the Environmental Protection Agency's waters of the U.S. rule as a "travesty" that "extends the government's jurisdiction over navigable waters into the micromanagement of puddles and ditches on farms, ranches and other privately held property."
The Democratic platform said it will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, with "particular attention given to promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices." Clinton's fact sheet provides further clues about how the Democrats might achieve these goals, calling for full funding of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and support for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
The Republican platform, meanwhile, praised the work farmers and ranchers have done on the land and encouraged continued preservation, not restrictions, on working lands, emphasizing that "ranching on public lands must be fostered, developed and encouraged."