Commentary: Trump or Clinton -- who is better for ag?

The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb, AgProfessional or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.

Regular viewer and correspondent Barret Young asks the question:

"What do you think of the presidential candidates? ‚...could you talk about the agricultural viewpoints each candidate may have and the effects?"

I think it is important to avoid microscoping this election and limiting our focus on agriculture. Farm policy might get a few sound bites during campaign stops in Iowa or possibly Wisconsin, but even that seems unlikely. The farm vote simply doesn't matter as much, and farmers themselves seem likely to vote based on other reasons.

Jim Weisemeyer at ProFarmer tried to compare ag policy positions of the two presumed nominees and my summary is as follows: a Clinton presidency would look much like the current administration for farmers. A Trump presidency is essentially unpredictable. It is pointless to analyze the words of a candidate who said this week "policy is a waste of paper" and whose positions can change day to day. However, I can think of two exceptions.

The lesser issue is immigration. Ag's labor problems from vegetable fields to packing plants will not improve under a Trump administration. The far bigger peril for agriculture is trade interruption. Mr. Trump's campaign rhetoric leaves little doubt about the strong possibility of trade wars with China and Mexico, our #1 and #3 ag export markets. I rank this risk higher because the executive branch can do much without or despite Congress on trade issues. As an example, President Obama opened up Cuban trade essentially single-handedly.

While ag has much at stake, farmers seem to be willing to ignore these hazards in favor of other perceived threats: the makeup of the Supreme Court, regulatory burdens, and various Constitutional fears.

As far as the actual candidates, I consider Mr. Trump vulgar, uninformed, and singularly unqualified for the Presidency. Sec. Clinton I find competent, predictable and uncharismatic. Neither seem to rank ag policy a priority.

Click here to read more posts from John Phipps with the US Farm Report.