Is Donald Trump Right for American Agriculture?

March 31, 2016

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This is Rick Frank sitting in for John Block. This radio commentary is brought to you by John Deere and the National Corn Growers Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you. 

And now for today’s commentary— 

One of my law partners, a Republican farmer from the heartland, recently returned from a trip to the Midwest marveling at Donald Trump’s popularity in farm country and the growing revolution of those wanting to make America great again. He also attributed Trump’s success to those dissatisfied with our “leading from behind” President Obama and a yearning for strong leadership. At the same time, my wife’s good friends, suburban upper middle-class Democrats in Maryland, are terrified of Donald Trump. They think he is a racist and a misogynist. He wants to build a wall at the Mexican border. He wants to bar all Muslims from coming in to the United States. According to the media, if not awarded the Republican nomination, Trump thinks there would be protests or riots. 

Who is the real Donald Trump and would he be good for American agriculture? 

Candidate Trump has said remarkably little about agriculture. Google “Trump and agriculture” and you will find virtually no articulated policies. In fairness, none of the candidates have actively discussed agriculture in this campaign…even in Iowa…which is unprecedented. It’s possibly a sign of agriculture’s declining political power. 

Let’s look at two key issues of importance to American Agriculture. On immigration, Donald Trump wants to build the wall at the Mexican border and send 11 million illegal immigrants back home. But who will pick the strawberries and milk the cows? Who will do suburban landscaping? Will American agriculture really benefit under a Trump administration? 

And how about trade? President Trump would rip up many of our existing trade agreements which facilitate America feeding the world. Does American agriculture really want the U.S. taking an isolationist position with agricultural exports being the primary loser? Impose tariffs on China, Japan, and Mexico and U.S. agriculture will pay the price. 

It’s hard to tell who the real Donald Trump is. Maybe as we get closer to the Republican convention, more will become clear about Trump’s views on agriculture. For now, I would view a Trump presidency with a great deal of skepticism. 

Until next week, this is Rick Frank sitting in for John Block from Washington, D.C.