Leaving Farmers Of Color In The Lurch
Despite the USDAs long track record of racial discrimination, the Trump administration has all but closed the agencys Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights . When Trumps nominee for the top position, Naomi Churchill Earp, was not confirmed by the Senate, he appointed her as the deputy assistant secretarya position that does not need Senate approvalwhile leaving the top position vacant, effectively leaving the office to her leadership.
Earp has a dismal record on civil rights. She previously served at the OASCR from 1987 to 1989, during which timeaccording to a House committee investigation and congressional hearingsactual enforcement activity nearly stopped entirely. Moreover, Earp herself has faced allegations of discriminatory conduct and combative management throughout her years in civil service. A National Association for the Advancement of Colored People task force estimated that discrimination complaints against Earp and her direct reports had cost the federal government almost $500,000 in legal costs over the years. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Earp appeared to dismiss allegations of sexual harassment at the U.S. Forest Service as silliness.
Salt Fat Refined Grains Heat
The rules, in 10 words: Loosen school nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama.
Projected impact: USDA has issued two proposals that would make school meals saltier, fattier, and higher in empty calories.The first would do away with Obama-era sodium reduction targets, halve whole-grain serving requirements, and re-introduce one-percent milk in schools. The second would decrease the amount of fruit that schools are required to offer for breakfast, while increasing the amount of starchy vegetables like white potatoes and corn they could offer in a single week.
Lovers: School lunch administrators food manufacturers.
Haters: Public health advocates.
Current status: A federal judge struck down the first proposal on procedural grounds in April, though it appears that USDA is making a last-ditch attempt to usher an identical rule through at this very moment. The second proposal hasnt moved forward under the standard rule-making process, however, USDA effectively implemented it via an emergency waiver, which justified the de-regulation as necessary in light of pandemic-related supply chain contractions.
Make Snap Restrictive Again
The rules, in 10 words: Tighten rules for food assistance, making it harder to access.
Current status: The administration introduced three rules aimed at shrinking the SNAP in 2019. One has been struck down in federal court, and the other two have not been finalized.
Projected impact: If fully implemented as proposed, the rules would boot nearly 4 million participants from the SNAP rolls. The first would do so by subjecting more people to work requirements. The second would end flexibilities that allow states to loosen eligibility restrictions for participants who have assets like savings accounts, cars, or homes, and raise the programs gross income limit. The third would modify allowable utility expense deductions.
Lovers: Fiscal conservatives, advocates of welfare reform.
Haters: Anti-poverty groups, Democrats, food banks.
The Trump administration hasnt been successful in realizing any of its proposed modifications to SNAP, despite lots of rhetoric about shrinking the safety net.
Likelihood of a Biden rollback: Highif he has to do anything at all. If the Trump administration doesnt appeal the federal lawsuit quashing its work requirement rule by January, itll be dead on arrival. Similarly, if USDA doesnt publish final rules for the eligibility and utility deduction standards, the Biden administration will be able to drop the proposals.
Also Check: How Much To Stay In Trump Tower
Robbing Rural Communities Of Their Natural Amenities
Despite research showing that green policy can bring an additional $8 billion annually to rural communities, Trump has instead spent his time in office rolling back environmental protections and ramping up fossil fuel development. For example, the Trump administration has favored gas and oil companies over renewable energy in the leasing of federal land. Some of the natural land auctioned off to oil companies is vital, irreplaceable wildlife habitat. In total, Trump has stripped federal protections from almost 35 million acres of natural land.
Natural amenities such as parks and quality outdoor recreation are essential to many rural communities and, in some places, have driven economic growth in recent years. By opening up rural areas to more fossil fuel extraction, the Trump administrations policies are trading the long-term viability of rural economies for the profit of giant corporations.
Waters Of The United States Rule
The Waters of the United States Rule is an attempt to fight water pollution at its source. Waterways streams, rivers, underground springs, ponds, lakes are often polluted, and that pollution comes in part from runoff from farms. Silt, fertilizer, and pesticides leach out of farmland and into water sources. A problem! Without a doubt.I ts a fairly arcane bit of law, little-known outside the agricultural community. It was remarkably canny for Trump to specifically mention it.
This rule is incredibly controversial among farmers its seen as one more layer of land regulation in what can already seem like an overwhelming pile. Its also very confusing for example, a central complaint is the way the rule treats not-always-there waterways like prairie potholes the same as ponds or lakes.
The Waters of the United States Rule is a fairly arcane bit of law, little-known outside the agricultural community.
Hansen acknowledges that the EPA has done a very poor job of communicating to farmers how this will actually affect them. Meanwhile, groups like the Farm Bureau say that the impact on farmers and ranchers will be enormous. They dont detail how, instead leaning on the criticism that the rule is a federal over-reach.Combine this with fired-up rhetoric from Trump and many are thinking, well, this is another example of the government screwing with us, the farmers, and it needs to be thrown out.
Don’t Miss: Was Melania A Prostitute
How Many Farmers Are In Pennsylvania
A cornerstone of Pennsylvanias heritage is agriculture. A total of 52,000 farms exist, compared with 79,000. More than 3 million acres of farmland have been cultivated in Pennsylvania, contributing more than 83 million acres of revenue. A direct economic impact of $8 billion, 280,500 jobs, and a $10.5 billion impact can be calculated. Profits of $9 billion were generated.
The Affordable Care Act
Healthcare is in the same mold. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has attracted intense anger from farmers, largely because of the unusual way the industry works. Agriculture relies on farm contractors who work sort of like temp agencies: these contractors have many employees who are sent to various farms at various times of the year for various tasks.
Being forced to submit lists of employees for healthcare coverage would expose some of these contractors for employing illegal immigrants, which they have to use due to the massive lack of labor.
A central problem there is immigration: being forced to submit lists of employees for healthcare coverage would expose some of these contractors for employing illegal immigrants. Contractors have to use illegal immigrants due to the massive lack of labor in the agricultural industry and are now, they feel, being punished for an immigration policy they have no control over. Contractors are also simply used to not paying for employee healthcare , and the increased costs can be a huge stress in an industry where margins are already razor-thin.
Some of the healthcare cost is due to some states refusals to extend Medicaid what was to be a key component of the Affordable Care Act including many breadbasket states like Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, and Missouri. This effectively kneecapped healthcare for agricultural workers.
Recommended Reading: How Many Bankruptcies Has Trump Filed
Biden Cancelled $15 Billion Of Student Debt For Borrowers But You Can Still Apply Now
In other words, small family farms are in deep trouble normally. These latest shocks are helping to drive up farm bankruptcies and farmer suicides, as Chuck Jones wrote earlier this year at Forbes.com. These are people who badly need help.
But they aren’t getting it. In fact, relatively few have received the help they reportedly need. In Louisiana, the program doesn’t cover costs, let alone the income had there been no trade war, the point of the MFP subsidies, which are in addition to other regular types. More than a third of 2019 farm income is coming from the federal government. But that’s in aggregate, not evenly spread out.
The Environmental Working Group has run an analysis on the MFP subsidies and says the top 10% of recipients”the largest, most profitable industrial-scale farms in the country,” according to the EWGreceived half of all the dollars spent, in the form of multi-million dollar payments. The top 1% of recipients received 13% of payments. The bottom 80% received an average of $5,136.
But, again, that last number is an average. In Iowa, as the Des Moines Register reported, there were 100 payments out of almost 4,300 that were less than $25. There were 11 farmers whose checks didn’t even break $5. The farmers getting the least tended to focus on corn, which was valued for the payments at a penny a bushel.
Ways The Trump Administration Has Failed Rural America
After four years under siege, rural America deserves equitable investment and a meaningful partnership with Washington.
- Caius Z. Willingham
President Donald Trump has repeatedly stressed that his administrations policies would benefit farmers and rural Americans, vowing in 2016, We are going to end this war on the American farmer. His rhetoric, however, could not be further from reality. From the moment Trump took office, his administration has openly attacked rural communities by attempting to dismantle key programs and services on which they rely. The administrations prioritization of corporate interests and profits over critical rural services and protections has only exacerbated the growing gap between rural and urban America. Since 2016, the difference in average household income between metro and nonmetro areas has increased by nearly 30 percent.
This issue brief outlines the multiple ways Trumps policies are driving down rural opportunity and lays out pathways for restoring hope to rural America. Rural communities have been struggling for more than a decade, and they need a meaningful commitment to economic recovery from federal policymakers. With robust investment and lasting partnerships between the federal government and the diverse range of rural localities, rural America can have a bright future.
Recommended Reading: How Much Is A Night In Trump Tower
The Trade Policy Has Been A Disaster
In January 2020, after more than a year of painful tit-for-tat tariffs, the U.S. and China reached a phase one trade agreement. China promised to buy an additional $12.5 billion worth of American agricultural goods that year based on market conditions.
But by the end of November 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that dominated the last 12 months, Chinas purchases were only at 56% for Chinese imports of U.S. goods, according to calculations by the Peterson Institute for International Economics .
Other international trade choices also hurt American farmers.
The trade policy has been a disaster, said Glauber, the former USDA chief economist. From almost the first day of him being in office, he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and then spent a lot of the energy that he put into bilateral agreements with Japan and bilateral agreement and renegotiations of NAFTA. The big changes for agriculture were to put a lot of the provisions and TPP into those agreements.
On top of those issues, Glauber added, you have the trade wars which caused some very large disruptions in markets, not just in soybeans but in a variety of other markets. Not just with China, but also the EU and Canada had tariffs against our products. Our markets suffered because of that.
Sabotaging Essential Agriculture Market Data And Research
In 2018, the Trump administration abruptly announced that it planned to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the USDAs primary research bodies, away from Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City area. Justifying the move as a cost-saving measure and an initiative to move the research body closer to farmers and rural communities, independent analysts estimated that the move would actually cost the federal government up to $128 million over time. The government announced and hastily carried out the move, requiring employees to decide whether to accept the transfer before even being informed of the new location. The move resulted in the loss of about half of the ERS experts invited to relocate.
Read Also: Fred Trump Arrested At Klan Rally
Trump Administration Leaves A Lasting Impact On Agriculture
USFR-Trump Administration Impact on Ag
As President Donald Trump enters his final days in office, the House of Representatives last minute move to impeach him for a second time is stealing headlines. And with the loss of social media access, Trumps response has been muted. While the final weeks of Trumps presidency have been a whirlwind, the impact hes had on agriculture the past four years isnt going unnoticed.
I think in the last four years, ag has gotten a lot of recognition, Kentucky farmer Ryan Bivens told AgriTalks Chip Flory during the farmer forum. Agriculture has been at the forefront. We had trade issues that were going on. And, at the end of the day, I think we’re going to look back and realize how much we truly have gained.
While farmers like Biven say the Trump Administration is leaving its mark on agriculture, Farm Journal Washington correspondent Jim Wiesemeyer says one of the positives from the outgoing Administration was the Presidents focus on farmers.
He communicated to different groups, especially to agriculture. And no president- in my over 40 years of covering the business of agriculture from Washington- have I ever seen a president talk about agriculture and trade policy as much as our president, says Wiesemeyer.
Looking back at the past four years, that attention is mixed.
Theres both good and bad in Trump, and that goes along so many different topics, says Wiesemeyer.
Trump and Trade
USDA’s Focus on Farmers
Siding With Agribusiness Against Independent Farmers
The Trump administration has demonstrated a complete disinterest in assisting small farms, as Secretary Perdue made explicit at an event in October 2019, where he was quoted as saying, In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I dont think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.
One of Trumps first actions in office was to withdraw Obama-era rules that protected livestock farmers from exploitation by powerful agriculture monopolies. Specifically, the Trump administration revoked rules that would prohibit meatpackers from paying different prices to farmers with similar products and banned them from retaliating against growers who organized collectively for better contract terms. The rules also prohibited bad-faith negotiation practices or the spurious cancelation of contracts with farmers. The set of rules, formulated by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration , also strengthened enforcement by lowering the standard for farmers bringing suit against meatpackers under the Packers and Stockyards Act. In place of these rules, the Trump administration finalized far weaker rules that some farmer advocates say cement the ability of packers to engage in unfair practices.
Don’t Miss: Is Donald Trump Wearing A Toupee