It has often been said that the kinds of debate that constitute the US Presidential election would be more suited to a pre-schooler than a president. In any case, the choice that faces the American people is between a brash loudmouth reality TV star, and an ex-Secretary of State whose unlikeability is difficult to trace, but follows her like an odour. One spouts racist paranoia to good effect, while the other seems always on the backfoot for some mistake. One intends to build a great Mexican wall, the other used her personal email account to conduct business, a terrible mistake it would seem.
Both have had advantages in life. Clinton is a legal eagle with a glittering career of achievements behind her. While Trump inherited multiples of millions, his biggest boast rests more on his ability to boast, but he plays the common-man role quite well. Between them they kick up a lot of dust but when it's all thrashed out, does anyone know what they actually stand for?
Regarding agriculture, it is difficult to find even a quote from either candidate on the subject. The question of food production is not important to them as it might seem. Perhaps rural voters don't have the pull they once had. Say what you like about George Bush and Son, but they had a common touch and they were essentially rural men. These candidates have farmers across the US baffled. One website, the Western Farm Press, went through a whole article with nothing but unanswered questions.
But that is to oversimplify. Indeed, behind all the thrashing about, both campaigns have touched on farming, but not in much detail.
Clinton plans to push investment in rural businesses “through simplified regulations for community banks, improving infrastructure and expanding development tax credits.” She wants to promote healthy food options and she has called for “increasing funding for new farmers, promoting clean energy leadership and improving educational opportunities.”
Clinton has reached out to former mining communities, much depressed in recent years. “With rich soil and abundant water, abandoned coal mines can provide prime real estate for new investment – whether in forestry, agriculture, or manufacturing. But significant remediation, site preparation, and infrastructure development is often required before this land can be successfully re-purposed for new economic activity. Clinton will unlock existing unappropriated resources from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to help finance this work.”
Trump meanwhile, has attacked regulations in agriculture, with typical gusto. He told a campaign rally in Iowa in August: “Family farms are the backbone of this country. We are going to end the EPA intrusion into your family homes and your family farms. We are going to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard, eliminate job-killing regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule, and provide desperately-needed tax relief … We are going to end this war on the American farmer. That includes our plan to lower the tax rate on family farms down to 15 percent, and to stop the double-taxation of family farms at death – helping to ensure that the family farm tradition in Iowa continues to thrive and flourish.”
So the candidates do care about food production and rural life, but it is something of an afterthought. Whatever they say should probably not be taken too seriously. After all, most voters are now urbanites and there's plenty of food in the supermarket. Whatever the outcome, farmers it seems will not be top of the priority list.