How the U.S. election could affect ag

How the U.S. election could affect ag
Nov 05, 2020

No winner has been declared as of Thursday morning

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Ballots are still being counted in the U.S. presidential election, but some industry members are looking forward to how the results could affect the ag sector.

As of 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, no winner has been declared in the election.

Joe Biden has 253 electoral college votes and President Trump has 214 in the race to 270, ABC News reports.

The Democrats appear as if they will keep control of the House while it looks like the Republicans will retain control of the Senate, Fox News projected.

Mary Kay Thatcher, senior lead of federal government relations with Syngenta, hosted a webinar Thursday morning to discuss how agriculture may be affected by the results of the election.

Most of her comments centered on the industry and a Biden presidency given he’s leading in the electoral college votes.

A Democratic president could mean a change in how ethanol issues are handled.

Illinois and Minnesota each have two Democratic senators while Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and South Dakota each have two Republican senators.

“I’m not saying Mr. Biden isn’t going to listen to (the Republican senators), but he’s probably not going to listen to them the same way that Mr. Trump listened to them,” Thatcher said.

The senators in Illinois and Minnesota will likely be the ones to lead charges to the White House and Environmental Protection Agency on ethanol and biofuel issues, she added.

One Biden pledge, in particular, could be a benefit for producers.

In August, he announced a plan to spend $2 trillion on climate change initiatives.

Farmers would likely be part of that equation, Thatcher said.

“I think that’s good news from the perspective of farmers and that, if he’s going to spend that kind of money, there’s got to be a lot of carrots versus sticks in there,” she said.

Thatcher doesn’t envision many changes at the United States Department of Agriculture.

If Biden does win the presidency, he would appoint a new ag secretary.

The $867-billion Farm Bill, which president Trump signed in December 2018, is mostly law until 2023.

“The new secretary could make a few regulatory changes,” Thatcher said. “For example, not part of the Farm Bill but this COVID disaster aid that’s going out. He (or she) would have the ability to go in from an administrative proposal and say ‘OK, I want to implement more payment limits or I think the price this administration paid to soybean producers is too low and I’m going to increase it.’”

A Biden presidency would likely result in different approaches to trade, Thatcher said.

Whereas President Trump took a unilateral approach to China, Biden could seek support from allies to pressure China to be more open on its trade policy, she said.

“I think he’ll continue to be aggressive on China, but he’ll bring in friends to help him out with that,” she said.

In the first year of a Biden presidency, he’s likely to focus more on trade deal enforcement, including the Phase 1 agreement with China and the United States- Mexico-Canada Agreement, Thatcher added.

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