Candidates Discuss Farm Policy

The American Farm Bureau Federation has shared responses to a series of questions it posed to President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The unedited responses to all questions are available at fb.org. This week, Shortliner shares responses to a question about farm policy programs.

Question: Reliable food supplies and stable prices are critical for the United States’ long-term prosperity and economic well- being. Programs in the farm bill, set to be renewed in 2023, provide key safety net and risk management tools for farmers, as well as critical tools to help farmers implement resource-conserving practices on the farm as well as trade promotion programs that help us build new markets abroad.

Sustained, effective and predictable policy through the farm bill is necessary to address the threats that farmers have faced historically and new threats we now face to provide a consistent food supply. This includes defending and strengthening crop insurance for risk management that is affordable and flexible for all producers. As president, how would you be a proponent for enhancing farm policy programs to bring certainty to farm and ranch families through crop insurance, improved risk management programs and support for beginning farmers and ranchers, while also bringing much-needed funding to trade development and agricultural research?

Biden Response


Crop insurance and risk management tools are incredibly important to farmers, especially in light of the most recent wind storm in Iowa, the fires out west, the drought in the Midwest, and Hurricane Laura in Texas and Louisiana. A Biden-Harris Administration will understand the important role crop insurance plays and will make sure the safety net is there for those who need it.

We also will strengthen our agricultural sector by pursuing a trade policy that works for American farmers. More than 20% of all crops grown and products raised in the United States are exported, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and helping to stabilize farm income. But America’s farmers and rural communities have paid a heavy price for President Trump’s tariffs. While Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war without any real strategy, we will stand up to China by working with our allies to negotiate from the strongest possible position. More information on what our administration’s trade policy will be can be found in the next section on international trade.

A Biden-Harris Administration will support beginning farmers. America tries to make it easy to start a business, but unless you inherit the land, it’s much more difficult to start a farm. We will expand the Obama-Biden Administration’s microloan program for new and beginning farmers, doubling the maximum loan amount to $100,000. And, it will increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm ownership and operating loans that typically serve beginning farmers who grew up on a family farm but need low-cost capital to add to their family’s operation to support another household.

We will reinvest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances. We’ll reinvest in agricultural research by bolstering funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our farmers need new technologies to compete in world markets while protecting our soil and water. These new technologies – and the next new seeds – should be developed and owned by the American people, not private companies who can use patents to expand profits.

And, we will strengthen antitrust enforcement. From the inputs they depend on – such as seeds – to the markets where they sell their products, American farmers and ranchers are being hurt by increasing market concentration. The Biden-Harris Administration will protect small and medium-sized farmers and producers by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Trump Response


President Trump supported and signed the 2018 Farm Bill, and the Trump/Pence Administration worked expeditiously to implement the critical legislation.

The Trump Administration has implemented several new programs in the 2018 Farm Bill which have helped support our farmers during these uncertain times. This includes the dairy margin coverage program which has helped dairies across our country, especially in leading dairy states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, California, New York, and Pennsylvania withstand difficult market conditions. The Administration has worked on regulations that will support the burgeoning hemp industry, establishing rules that will lay the foundation for this to become another crop rotation option for farmers across the country. The Administration has also implemented provisions that will ensure the health of our nation’s livestock sector, even as we have seen disease threats like the African Swine Fever decimate China’s pork industry. Through new Farm Bill tools, we are working to ensure we keep these diseases out of the United States and developing vaccines and tools that can protect our domestic industry should we ever encounter such threats.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for Farm Bill programs that will help farmers prepare for the threats of tomorrow while maximizing productivity today.

President Trump believes that a new farm bill must be generous to our farmers and must do a better job of sustaining them through these tough times. The new farm bill cannot impose new regulatory or climate requirements on already struggling farmers. The smallest farmers will be the hardest hurt by new and unfunded mandates in the new farm bill.

Future Farm Bills must focus on building on the key pillars of our domestic farm policy including a strong crop insurance system, voluntary conservation programs, and increased agricultural research. Our farmers are the most innovative and productive in the world, and our farm policy must continue to unleash this great potential.

In addition to the Farm safety net, the Trump Administration has worked to ensure our farmers have had adequate protection from the Market Facilitation Program responding to unjustified trade retaliation; to Disaster programs that have come to aid our farmers that faced drought, fire, flood and snow across the Southeast, the midwest, and the West; to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Our farmers have faced much adversity, but as the heroic patriots they are, they have continued to get the job done, and the Trump/Pence Administration has boldly stood with them in that work.