Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20. In case you didn’t listen to his inaugural speech, he made it clear that his presidency is going to be unlike any other in recent history – in tone and in action.
Since day one in the oval office, Trump has unleashed a flurry of executive orders, met with congressional, business and labor leaders and visited with foreign dignitaries. And he’s been tweeting remarks on his personal Twitter feed throughout the day.
“The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades!” Trump tweeted after issuing his latest executive order dealing with regulatory reform. That order requires that two regulations be revoked before any new one can be advanced.
Here is a list of many of the executive actions taken during Trump’s first week, some of which were heralded by agricultural groups and some of which made some of those same organizations very, very nervous.
And that’s just for starters. More executive orders are on the way.
Farm and ranch groups are generally supportive of efforts to repeal some of the most burdensome regulations.
Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, told Agri-Pulse that NPPC is generally supportive of the order as a means to make sure farmers, ranchers, and business owners “aren’t overburdened.”
“While there’s constantly new regulations added, there’s never any taken away,” Warner said. “At some point, something’s got to give.”
But there were also plenty of questions about which regulations would be affected by these orders.
In the legislative process, bills passed by Congress commonly require rulemaking by executive branch agencies. Warner says that rulemaking can get to such a point where regulations might be duplicative or outside the intent of Congress. NPPC isn’t necessarily trying to slice current regulations to a lower quota, Warner said, but NPPC members think a healthy look at what’s on the books could be a good thing.
“It’s not a matter of numbers … do they work and are they something that Congress actually asked for?” Warner said.
But others aren’t so sure how the order would work in the reality of a government agency.
For example, if a new regulation is produced by the Agriculture Department, would two USDA regulations need to go or would regulations from another department also be up for grabs? What about rulemaking that updates programs but is not a completely new regulation such as annual blending targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard?
The order simply states that whenever a new regulation is promulgated or offered up for public comment, the proposing agency or department “shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”
“To the extent this stays in place and doesn’t get modified, you’re going to have a lot of people at a lot of agencies and outside organizations digging through to see where there’s any dead weight that would be easy to throw overboard,” noted Ferd Hoefner, with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Lawyers are still trying to figure out what it all means for the upcoming farm bill and many other issues, but there is an exemption that may cover rules necessary to implement a farm bill.
“The language seems to be exceedingly clear that ‘regulations required by law’ will be exempt from the executive order,” says David Graves of the lobbying firm McLeod, Watkinson and Miller. Graves is manager and secretary of the American Association of Crop Insurers.
Trump’s executive orders on trade are perhaps the most worrisome for the agriculture sector, although the crackdown on illegal immigration could make it even harder to find workers.
One of Trump’s first actions was to pull the U.S. of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that most U.S. farm groups counted on to help boost sales for producers who are struggling with low prices and rising financial stress.
He also wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, outlining new deals with two of our top trading partners, Canada and Mexico.
The American Farm Bureau Federation predicted that tariff cuts and other measures in just the TPP would net farmers an extra $4.4 billion annually, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was counting on the pact to help it compete with Australia for Japan’s massive beef demand.
Wheat farmers were also hoping the deal would be approved. “U.S. wheat farmers depend heavily on export demand to determine their per-bushel income,” said Jason Scott, chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates. “We can compete very effectively in Asian and Latin American markets where the demand for high quality wheat is rapidly increasing and our organizations took a long view of the benefits TPP held out — a trade agreement that promoted economic growth abroad as a way to grow export sales and prosperity for farmers at home.”
Now, farm groups are anxious about what comes next and how they can boost agricultural exports.
Groups like the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Farm Bureau are saying that trade expansion is too important to abandon just because the U.S. has pulled out of TPP.
“With this decision, it is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region,” Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.
If the U.S. can’t have a multilateral trade deal with the TPP nations (Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Malaysia), farm groups and lawmakers say the U.S. needs to start moving on bilateral agreements.
“Moving forward, we expect to see a plan in place as soon as possible to engage the TPP partner nations and capture the value that we lose with the withdrawal,” said American Soybean Association President Ron Moore
“Also, we expect a seat at the table to help ensure these agreements in whatever form they take are crafted to capture their full value for soybean farmers. Trade is too important for us to support anything less.”
Editor’s note: Agri-Pulse Editors Spencer Chase and Philip Brasher contributed to this report.
By: Sara Wyant
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