Search to identify Trump's moves
Nov. 22, 2016
While it is some weeks, if not months, before the administration of Donald Trump reveals actual steps that will affect an industry like grain-based foods, enough has been said to allow for a few realistic expectations of what may happen next January. Mr. Trump pulled off his radical re-do of the American political scene by knocking and promising to obliterate an array of government programs. This target list largely represents programs initiated or strengthened during the Obama administration. Having such a list does not mean Mr. Trump has avoided presenting a few new ideas beyond building the anti-immigrant wall along the southern border. Nothing he has promised likely means more than the tax law changes that appear to benefit both individuals and businesses of all sizes with the goal of stimulating economic growth.
Agreement is not yet evident even among Mr. Trump’s closest advisers as to which moves have first-day priority and others that are actionable in his first 100 days in the White House. Close observers of his victorious election campaign mostly agree about four main policy areas: International trade focused against countries that have competed to take manufacturing jobs like Mexico and China; infrastructure improvements focused on rebuilding American roads, airports, hospitals and government facilities that have fallen into disrepair; tax cuts and reforms for both business and individuals, mainly designed to improve industrial growth, and last, health care revisions ending Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) and replacing it with individual coverage.
Many different rules and regulations emanating from the federal government that affect grain-based foods may be changed to diminish their power. Here rules governing labor practices will be subject to negative scrutiny differing hugely from the steps to expand oversight during the Obama years. Decisions taken by the Food and Drug Administration, whom he called the “food police,” have not appeared on a Trump list, but that does not mean it will escape attention. He strongly asserts a desire to reduce government in business. Similarly, regulations affecting energy use and transportation are inevitably headed for Trump-led revision.
Hardly any part of the federal government has had greater impact on grain-based foods than the Department of Agriculture. Federal farm legislation has had a lesser influence in recent years from the time it served as the main determinant of both wheat and wheat flour prices, primarily by price support loans. In noting the weakness of agricultural prices in the past several years as well as the powerful plus from voters living in rural areas proved to be for Mr. Trump’s election success, it would not be too great a surprise to see consideration being given to steps that might boost prices for wheat and other crops. Just what might be involved here is difficult to forecast, except to note that during his active campaigning Mr. Trump favored using corn to make fuel ethanol and he rejected any idea of subjecting this corn usage to some sort of maximum.
It’s hard to look at potential U.S.D.A. moves without recognizing it is largely responsible for recommending amounts and implementing through school lunches what many American eat. Somehow, it seems that amending these food guides would be something President Trump would like to do.
Attacks on trade were a frequent issue that tempted Mr. Trump to criticize in horrific terms the “evils” he saw in pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement and other regional agreements as well as matters under the World Trade Organization. It is these very specific pacts that the president-elect often lambasted that were viewed as highly positive moves by the federal government in support of grain-based foods. While foreign trade has had a declining role in the welfare of industries like milling and baking, no one would want precipitous changes implemented without consultation. Whether that’s going to be possible with the Trump administration is one of the most important issues to be resolved as quickly as possible.