The recent same-day visits to Iowa by President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden brought welcome national attention to agricultural issues.
What was said by both was neither unexpected nor particularly important. The president touted his move to allow E15 ethanol use year-round, bragged about the $16 billion allocated to help farmers financially damaged by increased tariffs, and thanked patriotic farmers for their patience.
Biden blasted Trump’s tariffs and laid blame on the president for harming farmers financially.
Their exchange was more guttural than enlightening, but at least agriculture gained national exposure. Much more attention needs to be paid to what still is the United States’ greatest source of renewable wealth.
It’s hoped the numerous Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination will follow suit.
Farm policy at the federal level is at a distinct crossroads. Can U.S. taxpayers continue to foot a considerable bill for a shotgun-scattered approach to subsidizing all farmers without regard to need?
What role beyond ethanol and biodiesel can farmers play to reduce climate change? It is a real future threat to food production.
What are the candidates willing to do with regards to increased consolidation within the agribusiness industry that has robbed the free market of its fairness?
How can the abundant production capacity of U.S. farmers be more effectively used to help those nations threatened by food shortages? How can our present system better meet the needs of our domestic population struggling to put enough food on the table for their families?
How can financial support for farm-focused conservation practices be increased? How can those who want to begin farming careers receive the necessary help to overcome the high financial hurdles to do so?
What’s certain is farmers and agriculture in general have suffered because the momentum for necessary policy changes is lost in the lobbying-rich environment that is Washington, D.C.
Farm policy should not fall victim to the hyper-partisan environment that exists in Washington. It is not a conservative or liberal issue.
The farm economy has reached a tipping point. No one wants a rough repeat of the disaster that was the 1980s, when a prompt response would have likely saved many family farmers from losing their livelihoods.
Although the percentage of people engaged in farming is small, the profession has not lost its importance.
The exchange between Trump and Biden that occurred in Iowa wasn’t particularly informative. However, any attention paid to agriculture in the long election slog is most welcome.