A new look at the priorities for rural america of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is revealed in answers to a questionnaire distributed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The AFBF asked Republican and Democratic candidates to respond with their positions on several topics, including trade, labor, regulatory reform and sustainability. Here are their responses on agricultural policy.

Question: Reliable food supplies and stable prices are essential for long-term prosperity and economic well-being in the United States. Farm Bill programs, up for renewal in 2023, provide key safety nets and risk management tools for farmers, as well as essential tools to help farmers implement resource conservation practices on the farm as well as trade promotion programs that help us build new markets abroad. Sustainable, effective, and predictable policy through the Farm Bill is needed to address the threats farmers have faced historically and the new threats we now face to providing a consistent food supply. This includes advocating for and strengthening crop insurance for affordable and flexible risk management for all producers. As President, how would you be a supporter of improving farm policy programs to bring certainty to farm and ranch families through crop insurance, improving risk management programs and supporting beginning farmers and ranchers, while providing much-needed funding for trade development and agricultural research?

Joe Biden (D)

Crop insurance and risk management tools are extremely important to farmers, especially in light of the latest windstorm in Iowa, wildfires in the west, drought in the Midwest and Hurricane Laura in Texas and Louisiana. A Biden-Harris administration will understand the important role crop insurance plays and ensure the safety net is there for those who need it.

We will also strengthen our agricultural sector by pursuing a trade policy that works for American farmers. More than 20% of all crops grown and products raised in the United States are exported, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and help stabilize farm incomes. But American farmers and rural communities have paid a heavy price for President Trump’s tariffs. As Trump pursues a damaging and erratic trade war with no real strategy, we will stand up to China by working with our allies to negotiate from the strongest possible position.

A Biden-Harris administration will support beginning farmers. America tries to make it easy to start a business, but unless you inherit the land, it’s much harder to start a farm. We will expand the Obama-Biden administration microcredit program for new and beginning farmers, doubling the maximum loan amount to $100,000. Additionally, it will increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture farm property and operating loans which typically serve beginning farmers who grew up on a family farm but need low-cost capital to add to their family’s operation to support another household.

We will reinvest in agricultural research from universities that grant land so that the public, not private corporations, own the patents on agricultural advances. We will reinvest in agricultural research by strengthening funding for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our farmers need new technologies to compete in global markets while protecting our soil and water. These new technologies – and the next new seeds – should be developed and owned by the American people, not by private companies who can use patents to increase their profits.

And we will strengthen antitrust enforcement. From the inputs they depend on — like seeds — to the markets where they sell their produce, American farmers and ranchers are suffering from increasing market concentration. The Biden-Harris administration will protect small and medium-sized farmers and producers by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Donald Trump (right)

President Trump supported and signed the 2018 Farm Bill, and the Trump/Pence administration worked quickly to implement essential legislation.

The Trump administration introduced several new programs in the 2018 Farm Bill that have helped support our farmers during these uncertain times. This includes the Dairy Margin Hedging Program, which has helped dairies across the country, especially in major dairy states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, California, New York and Pennsylvania, to weather the difficult market conditions. The administration has been working on regulations that will support the nascent hemp industry, setting rules that will lay the groundwork for it to become another crop rotation option for farmers across the country. The administration has also implemented provisions that will ensure the health of our nation’s livestock sector, even as we have seen threats of diseases like African swine fever decimate China’s pork industry. With new Farm Bill tools, we are working to keep these diseases out of the United States and to develop vaccines and tools that can protect our domestic industry should we ever encounter such threats.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for Farm Bill programs that will help farmers prepare for the threats of tomorrow while maximizing productivity today.

President Trump believes that a new farm bill needs to be generous to our farmers and better support them in these difficult times. The new Farm Bill cannot impose new regulatory or climate requirements on already struggling farmers. The smallest farmers will be the hardest hit by the new and unfunded mandates in the new Farm Bill.

Future farm bills must build on the key pillars of our national agricultural policy, including a strong crop insurance system, voluntary conservation programs and increased agricultural research. Our farmers are the most innovative and productive in the world, and our agricultural policy must continue to unlock this great potential.

In addition to the Farm Safety Net, the Trump administration has worked to ensure our farmers have adequate protection from the Market Facilitation Program in response to unwarranted trade retaliation; disaster programs that have assisted our farmers in the face of drought, fires, floods, and snow in the Southeast, Midwest, and West; to the coronavirus food aid program. Our farmers have faced much adversity, but as the heroic patriots that they are, they have continued to do the work, and the Trump/Pence administration has boldly supported them in that work.