Ag industry must be proactive during Trump administration

Scott Shearer, of the bipartisan government affairs consulting firm Bockorny Group, provided an post-election update at IPPE.

Christopher Halloran,
Christopher Halloran,

The Trump administration has the potential to bring many changes to the agriculture and meat industries, and if those industries are proactive the changes can bring success, according to one speaker at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), held this week in Atlanta.

Scott Shearer, of the bipartisan government affairs consulting firm Bockorny Group, provided a post-election update Tuesday at IPPE.

“We are in uncharted territories and new times,” Shearer said. “It’s a different time in Washington, D.C., than you’ve ever seen before. This president is on a fast pace, and everyone is working to keep up with him.”

Shearer said the major issues affecting agriculture that will be addressed by President Donald Trump and the 115th Congress include trade, the 2018 Farm Bill, immigration and tax reform.

“There are decisions made every day in Washington, D.C., that affect your bottom line,” Shearer told attendees.

Trade and the agriculture industry

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is already affecting the U.S. agriculture industry, Shearer said, as members of the TPP look for other trading partners.

Trump has said he plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which greatly benefits the U.S. agriculture industry. Recently, more than 130 organizations and companies from the food and agriculture sector sent a letter to Trump that expresses their eagerness to work with his administration to modernize NAFTA while preserving and expanding the gains achieved to date.

Shearer also pointed to a potentially changing relationship with Russia and the possibility of tariffs on China that may affect U.S. industries.

2018 Farm Bill

Shearer said the first Senate hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill will be in late February, with a goal of completing the new bill by September 2018. Key issues that may be addressed in the new Farm Bill include farm economy, commodity prices, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program and animal welfare.

Net farm income has dropped in the past three to four years, Shearer said, and commodity prices are low, which is why these areas are key. And, “we’ll always have debates on animal welfare,” he added.

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