Ag leaders await changes to agricultural policies under a new presidential administration

Now that the election is behind us, ag stakeholders look ahead to the effects as leadership in Washington changes. There are a few aspects of ag policy that will be subject to revisions.

During the last four years, the Trump administration rolled out many policies impacting agriculture, including several trade deals signed just this year. President Trump saw pushback over his stance on China, even before taking office, but industry leaders say that this strongarm approach started a global conversation.

“Now, both Republicans and Democrats and the world is talking about how China is a problem on so many levels. So, I don’t think that the Biden administration, from a tactics standpoint, will back off. I think they’ll push,” according to Michael Torrey. “I think they’re going to be more collaborative with our international partners on how they will approach that, and I think, clearly, they’re going to take a fresh look at what’s been done, knowing that American agriculture needs that market.”

Demand in that market, and many other markets, is growing and it is driving the supply. Farmers and ranchers always rise to the occasion to keep the world fed, but dairy cooperative consultant Michael Torrey says that they cannot do it alone.

“Clearly one of the limiting factors in rural America is labor, and that applies not just to on the farm. It also applies to a lot of food companies from a distribution standpoint and a manufacturing standpoint. So, the demand for change is there, especially for labor that is on the farm or in that supply chain. The other side of that though is you cannot move that without dealing with illegal immigration,” Torrey states.

However, with the changing landscape inside the beltline, there may not be much in the way of labor legislation anytime soon, and when it comes to writing that legislation, the experienced lawmakers are no longer there.

Jay Truitt explains, “You can’t just remove a Pat Roberts and a Collin Peterson, who bring 45 years of historical perspective and know all the mistakes that we’ve made, in addition to the things that we did that kind of worked right... or that seemed to give us the biggest bang for our buck. You can’t remove them from the process and just think it’s going to be the same. The rest of the people that sat in those rooms don’t have that same level of expertise and experience.”

Truitt has been in the ag policy world for more than 20 years. He and Torrey both admit as we wait to see who will become the ag leaders in the 117th Congress, the next administration needs to keep trade top of mind to be successful.

“The United States and United Kingdom have to have a trade agreement renegotiated, now. It’s not something that either party can really dodge,” Truitt adds.