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With a new administration in office, we should expect to see a different set of priorities for food and agriculture. Rep. David Scott, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and Tom Vilsack as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will put into place a fresh agenda. So what should consumers and farmers expect going forward? Here are 5 things we found.
5. Rural Economic Development and Revitalization
This one is for farmers.
Over the last few years, farmers experienced declining net farm income and massive direct government payments. We learned from the farmer survey we conducted in the fall that farmers don’t like and don’t want these government subsidies. This administration will look to create packages to stimulate rural economic vitality that are more comprehensive. This includes promoting an increase in ‘green’ jobs, expanding health care services, and improving broadband access.
There is also a strong new commitment to making the system work better for everyone, both farmers, consumers, and everyone in between.
4. China Relations
We’ve learned that China dominates global trade, making them a vital relationship to maintain, especially for farmers and ranchers.
The Biden administration will prioritize improved relations with China and fulfilling ambitious purchase commitments. However, agriculture will be just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to future relations with China.
We should also expect to see movement away from the bilateral approach we’ve had for recent years to a more multilateral approach, especially with the EU. This means there will be more emphasis on building coalitions that can exert influence over China.
3. Improved Trade Opportunities
Recently, we’ve had an “America first” approach. This will likely evolve into something else.
So, what will it evolve into? A more traditional model of negotiation. One that’s built around ‘constructive engagement.’ Like above, bilateral trade negotiations will fade away. However, attempts to revive and rejoin broader trade initiatives and agreements will certainly emerge. This will be especially true in the Pacific and with long-standing U.S. allies.
Trade is what makes the world go ‘round. We will certainly see differences in the system, but there will be a goal to make the system better for everyone.
Biden is already addressing Covid-19, but what about when it comes to agriculture?
Covid-19 is an immediate priority for the entire government. We are seeing that in the form of federal initiatives to combat the virus and vaccination plans. Most of those growing our food reside in rural areas, making vaccine access a high priority. Also, economic support for those hurt by the virus and lockdown will see aid.
It seems as though Covid is not going away anytime soon, so the new administration will continue to prioritize resolve.
1. Climate Change
Addressing climate change is at the forefront for the Biden administration. But, don’t look for omnibus legislation.
Instead, we’ll see an expansion of existing programs and some additional incentives for environmentally responsible and friendly farming practices. This includes efforts that promote conservation and other regenerative ag practices by farmers and ranchers We should also expect to see immediate actions by flurries of executive orders. A popular topic of debate will be the creation of a ‘carbon market.’
Farmers as a whole are supportive of acting responsibly to better the climate and environment. However, policies that use incentives and rewards for positive and responsible acts will work better than threats and punishments. Every farmer is different, therefore, the administration should understand that what works well for one may not for the other. It can’t be a one size fits all, but instead more freedom to act responsibly based on the farm.
The Bottom Line
We will see changes in agriculture with the Biden administration. We should expect to see the majority of alterations in terms of addressing climate change and the environment.