Decision on rules boosting livestock farmers' rights could reveal Trump's agriculture policy

Dive Brief:

  • President Trump needs to decide what to do with several proposed government agricultural regulations that are popular with small farmers, but are likely to be opposed by big meat companies, according to Bloomberg.
  • The regulations in the spotlight were issued in the waning days of Obama's presidency. They would make it easier for chicken farmers to sue for noncompetitive practices, better define what deceptive practices are, and eliminate a controversial way that big companies use to pay farmers.
  • Small rural farmers that would benefit from the rules helped Trump win the election. However, Trump's pick for agriculture secretary has a long career with big agribusiness, and Trump himself has a strong position on eliminating government regulations.

Dive Insight:

Ever since these ideas were proposed, they have sown passionate dissent. The Obama administration first proposed these regulations in 2010, but at the time, policymakers blocked the necessary funds to carry them out. A spending bill in 2015 finally allowed funds for the rules to go through.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed the rules, they were touted as the Obama administration's "efforts to level the playing field for all Americans." However, the National Pork Producers Council responded to them as by saying they were "an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president."

This provides the Trump administration with one of its first opportunities to define its stance on agriculture policy and regulations. The two distinct sides of this debate are the average farmer — the same group of people that Trump has said he will fight to represent — and big companies, which want to have the freedom to run their businesses as they please. What the administration decides to do with this issue could show Trump's hand on agriculture policy, as well as which group he is more likely to side with over the next four years.

Trump could use this issue to show that he means business on his pledge to cut back on government regulations. He signed an executive order last week that said for every new government regulation that is added, two must be rescinded. As he signed the order, Trump explained that it was to create a more friendly business climate. It may be easier for him to maintain the business climate for the meat and poultry industry that had previously existed by rescinding this regulation. Or even if not outright rescinding it, just ignoring the rule and not enforcing it.

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Policy Meat / Protein