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A national agriculture policy group gives the Trump administration low grades for how it has dealt with rural America in the first year of President Trump’s term.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy published a series of six articles examining the activities of the Trump administration since January 2016 in areas such as farm policy, trade negotiations, food safety, immigration, and climate change.
In a press release, the executive director of IATP said the Trump administration and Congress are intentionally eroding the social contract.
“We have a president who is bad for our country and by extension, bad for the world,” said Juliette Majot. “And that needs to change.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week told the American Farm Bureau Federation convention that President Trump has made rural America and farming a top priority. (A task force Perdue chaired has issued a report on rural prosperity.) He cited elimination of regulations such as the Waters of the U.S. program that sought to add more wetlands to protected status. And he said the Republican tax plan that passed at the end of the year was a boon for farmers.
The IATP report reached a different conclusion. The report says the Trump administration has weakened the ability of farmers to negotiate with big meatpackers, allowed corporate mergers that reduce competition, eliminated a program to support the growing organic-food market, and worsened U.S. farmers’ international trade positions in the name of improving them.
On immigration policy, the administration has strangled the agriculture industry ability to harvest and manage crops, the report said.
“The agriculture and food system is deeply dependent on immigrant labor, whether in the fields, the meat processing plant, or in the restaurant,” according to one of the articles in the report. “Candidate Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, combined with actions taken by his Administration to limit immigration broadly, is creating disruptions and raising tensions in an already uncertain and often dangerous environment for those working in the farm and food system.”
As many 50 to 70% of the nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers are undocumented, according to a study by Farmworker Justice.
On trade, the report accuses the Trump administration of “cynical disregard for rural communities.”