Mr. Trump goes to Washington … now what?

November 11, 2016

5 Min Read
Mr. Trump goes to Washington … now what?

How much can this country handle? First, the Chicago Cubs won their first baseball World Series since 1908, and now Donald Trump, a billionaire non-politician, has claimed the White House for the next four years.

As with any changing of the guard, there is instant reaction. We all want answers now. Because, you know, in America we have become that an instant gratification nation, where we need to know right now how things are going to be for the next four years.

I find it interesting that those on the Trump side of the vote aren’t overwhelmingly declaring victory for their causes, but the anti-Trump camp is singing a woeful “it’s the end of the world as we know it.”

I prefer to wait it out, give Mr. Trump some time to get settled in, let’s say maybe even let him go through the pomp and circumstance of the inauguration. Let’s see how well he plays with others. The anti-Trump camps are fearful that his campaign rhetoric will become law, especially since the Republicans now have majorities in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. The first time that has happened since 1928.

On the surface, it appears as though those fears of Trump being able to railroad his beliefs may be realized with the Republican ship well afloat. But remember this little nugget that occurred during this very ugly campaign cycle — not only was the war of words between Democrat and Republican, but there was also a side battle of the GOP distancing itself from the party’s nominee. So, before Mr. Trump can win over the Democratic lawmakers, he will first have to win over those of his own party. There will be no slam-dunks of Trump’s beliefs becoming law.

Aside from the anti-Trump protests that surfaced in the wake of Tuesday’s results, here’s a snapshot of what the agriculture working world thinks about a Donald Trump presidency.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s President Zippy Duvall congratulated Trump on his election in a statement and went on to say “The important issues facing American agriculture are not red or blue, but they are critical to the prosperity of rural America and our ability to protect our nation’s food supply. We urge our elected representatives to reach across the aisle and come together to resolve the challenges we face. …

“Now it’s time for our newly elected leaders to turn up for rural America and keep their campaign promises by addressing the issues that matter to the people who sent them to Washington. Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress on issues such as the farm bill, tax reform and a trade agenda focused on reducing barriers and expanding exports.”

American Soybean Association’s Vice President, Ron Moore, from Roseville, Ill., is optimistic moving forward with a Trump administration, saying in a statement: “President-Elect Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would ensure farmers are at the table when important decisions affecting agriculture are made, and we will work with President Trump to make sure we indeed are at the table.”

Moore applauds Trump’s pro-farmer stance on renewable fuel standards and reducing the burden of regulations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

“We look forward as well to a constructive discussion on President-Elect Trump’s stance on trade. It is impossible to overstate the importance of trade–and specifically of the Chinese market–to American soybean farmers. Similarly, our export markets in North America and Southeast Asia are extraordinarily important trading partners.”

Len Steiner weighed in on the impending Trump presidency in his Nov. 9 morning “Daily Livestock Report”, Steiner admitted, as I’m sure Mr. Trump might actually agree, that the reality of a Trump presidency was “for the most part discounted as unlikely by the markets” as well as by most of America, and “at least initially, we expect some panic trading to occur.”

“A selloff is likely but may be tempered by the realization that the immediate material impacts could be limited. In the short term, we think the currency shifts have the more immediate impact. One thing to notice is the dramatic drop in the value of the peso and what that does to the ability of Mexican importers to source U.S. red meat and poultry products. Longer term, however, no one really knows how this will play out. The only thing we have to go (on) are statements and positions taken by president-elect Trump during the election. Promises of heavy tariffs on imports, the erection of a physical barrier with one of our largest trading partners, the commitment to do away with the North American Free Trade Agreement, no Trans-Pacific Partnership, limits on free trade in order to stimulate domestic jobs and other such commitments may have a significant detrimental impact on the meat industry.”

Steiner goes on to say that while economists argue the effects, these policies will have on the overall economy, livestock producers, and rightfully so, are a little more “parochial” in their response, saying “some livestock producers stand to lose more than others.”

In the last 20 years, since NAFTA and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade agreements went into effect “The biggest beneficiary during this process has been pork, largely because the opening of new markets, including Mexico, allowed low-cost U.S. pork producers to better compete in world markets. In 1995, U.S. pork exports were 787 million pounds (carcass weight basis) and our pork imports were 664 million pounds. The net trade effect then was just 123 million pounds. Total U.S. pork production in 1995 was 17.8 billion pounds, and only about 4.4% of that went to export markets. For the past 20 years, however, the U.S. pork industry has expanded dramatically, and most of the growth is due to booming pork exports.”

No one really knows what the impact of a Trump White House will be. Mr. Trump himself would be lying if he said he knows. A lot will depend on his willingness to play well with others, domestically and internationally. It appears as though he has already toned down his rhetoric, as he appears more statesman-like, rather than a loose-cannon braggadocio.

This will be a big learning curve for all of us, Mr. Trump included, but let’s at least give him a chance to move into the office. 

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