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What's the Farm Bill Outlook With a Trump Administration?

Purdue University Agricultural Economist Otto Doering, an authority on federal farm policy, may have shared the most honest prediction on the next farm bill when he spoke to the Agricultural Bankers Conference in Indianapolis.

No one really knows what a Trump administration means for the farm bill, he said. Many other parts of federal government, including trade and fiscal policy, may be even more important for agriculture, he said.

One hint of things to come may be that Trump is getting some advice from people connected with the Heritage Foundation, an opponent of farm subsidies, Doering said.

When the last two farm bills were written, farm-state members of the agriculture committees from both parties tried to keep the same level of funding, known as the baseline, available for the farm bill.

“They may be a relatively small group, but by God, they hang together,” Doering said.

Due to falling commodity prices, payments from the current farm bill are likely to be high – at least through the federal fiscal year of 2017, Doering said.

“We go back to our friends at the Heritage Foundation. They are going to make hay out of it,” he said.

Doering said that a Trump administration’s trade policies may have a greater effect on agriculture if they result in trade retaliation.

“Agriculture has benefitted substantially from trade,” he said, and many of agriculture’s great major crisis have stemmed from problems with trade.

Immigration policies also affect agriculture in vegetable and fruit production in states like California and Florida. The Midwest is also potentially affected, because immigrant labor is used in meatpacking and processing, he said.

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