This is NOT a blog post about what presidential candidate deserves your vote. This IS a blog post that explains where the presidential candidates stand on issues related to agriculture. It feels like this year's election season has focused on sound bytes and drama, but stakeholders should know where each candidate stands on some major issues. Farmers, agricultural companies, and other small businesses must pay special attention this year, as many of the questions of this election will have an outsized impact on those in the agricultural industry. With that said, let's review the presidential candidates' positions on some key ag issues.
TRADE: Trump, Clinton, and Stein all oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Trump says most if not all free trade agreements were bad deals. Clinton supported six of ten free trade agreements as a Senator. Johnson initially said the TPP was full of crony capitalism, but has since said he would sign it to advance free trade. Stein
IMMIGRATION: Clinton supports the Senate's immigration reform plan and has acknowledged the immigrant labor's importance to agriculture. Trump supports getting tough on immigration and has proposed building a wall between the United States and Mexico. He has called for deporting undocumented immigrants and imposing a test on immigrants from countries with terrorism problems. According to her website, Stein wants to "create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants." Johnson wants to focus on work visas, conducting background checks, and encouraging non-citizens to assimilate.
NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: Trump wants to move the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) out of the USDA and out of the Farm Bill. According to her website, Clinton supports protecting SNAP. Johnson proposes cutting federal funding of assistance programs and giving block grants to the states to run their own programs. Stein wants to end poverty and guarantee access to food with effective anti-poverty programs.
ENERGY: Clinton supports the Renewable Fuel Standard and doubling investment in rural renewable energy facilities. Trump also supports the RFS and wants to increase production of coal and natural gas in the United States. A key position of Stein's platform is to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030, including investment in sustainable agriculture and conservation. Johnson believes the free market, allowed to function without lobbyists and politicians intervening, will encourage environmentally friendly practices. He would focus on enforcing only the existing useful environmental regulations.
TAXES: Clinton advocates a fair tax system that increases taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations. She says she would simplify and cut taxes for small businesses. Trump would reduce the number of income tax brackets and reduce the corporate tax rate. Stein focuses on making corporations and the wealthy pay a "fair share" of taxes. Johnson would get rid of the complicated exemptions and bracket system and would impose a consumption tax based on what you spend, not what you earn. Note: the candidates' tax plans are quite complex and some of them seem to change from day to day.
MIMIMUM WAGE: Trump first advocated for getting rid of the minimum wage. He has since indicated he would be open to raising the federal minimum wage to at least $10. Clinton initially supported a $12/hr. minimum wage, but has since expressed interest in raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr., with a lower floor for certain rural areas. Stein supports a $15/hour minimum wage. Johnson would eliminate federal wage standards.
Thanks to the Pork Network for inspiring this post. Three more months. Get educated and get ready to vote!