Barring some dramatic and unforeseen event, it appears the country will choose between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in November.
While some policy differences between the candidates are certain to be covered extensively, policies that affect the agricultural sector and the meat industry traditionally are not. Because the election is just around the corner, it is important to begin thinking about the candidates’ likely policy positions on matters that will affect the agricultural sector. Disclaimer: This article is in no way an endorsement of either candidate.
Biden’s positions are drawn principally from what is published on his campaign website, his time as vice president, and his tenure as a U.S. senator. As of this writing, President Trump’s campaign website does not have a policy section, and he has yet to release a second-term agenda. President Trump’s public statements, however, along with the actions undertaken by his administration during his first term provide evidence of his likely policies if reelected.
From a food-safety regulatory standpoint, Trump has worked to cut regulations by creating a rule that for each new regulation enacted, two others must be cut. To date, Trump has reduced the number of federal inspection personnel and repealed regulations governing the discharge of farm pollutants. Biden, on the other hand, plans to streamline and reform existing regulations and would likely increase environmental restrictions. We also predict Biden would be more likely to support policy changes such as the possible declaration in the next four years of Salmonella as an adulterant in non-intact beef.
Another distinct difference is immigration. Whereas Trump has sought to curtail the entry of undocumented migrants, Biden is calling for compromise legislation between farm workers and the agricultural sector that will provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history, and a faster-track to a green card and ultimately citizenship. The difference in the competing policies will likely also have an impact on the availability of labor for harvest and processing facilities.
Biden plans to partner his administration with small and mid-size farmers to help them collectively create supply chains to deliver fresh produce and other products to schools, hospitals and other major state and federal institutions. As a senator, Biden advocated for limited subsidy payments to agricultural interests, transparent country-of-origin labeling and laws promoting fair competition. Trump’s policies have been met with mixed results. Farmers were supportive of the administration’s early policies, but have suffered significantly as a result of tariffs.
Trump has frequently stated he would like to overhaul U.S. infrastructure, and that he is “committed to ensuring every citizen can have access to high-speed internet, including — and especially in — rural America.” If Biden is elected, he plans to invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure and triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas. In each case, this would likely prove advantageous to agricultural and meat industry interests, which are often located in rural areas.
In the coming months, the candidates will likely further expound on their policy objectives, which will help clarify what changes may lie ahead; however, now is a good time for individuals and companies to follow the candidates and begin preparing for any changes that may be on the horizon. NP