The Republican Party continued its populous stance when it unveiled its loosely outlined platform at the GOP presidential convention in Cleveland. The 58-page document touched on several issues considered important to the agriculture industry.
Here are a few highlights.
Take SNAP Out of USDA
Among other things, the GOP urges Congress to remove the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – food stamps – from the Farm Bill. The National Pork Producers Council reports that more than 75% of Farm Bill funding goes to SNAP.
The platform also opposes mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Congress recently approved legislation requiring such labeling as a way to avoid a patchwork of 50 state GMO-labeling laws, stated NPPC in a newsletter to members.
Republicans generally support less regulatory intervention than more. The document calls for a “fundamental restructuring of the regulatory process,” citing the pending “draconian” rules on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry – the so-called GIPSA Rule – from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
Waters of the U.S.
The platform calls the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule a “travesty” that will micro-manage and over-regulate “puddles and ditches on farms, ranches and other privately-held property.” Along that same line, the document proposes eliminating EPA in its current form, a position with which few farmers would argue.
Dropped from the 2016 platform was any mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which is a less negative position than stated in earlier drafts. A previous draft document urged Congress not to “rush” passage of the 12-nation TPP deal; the final platform simply states that “significant trade decisions” should not be rushed, reports NPPC
The 2012 GOP platform said a Republican president should finish the trade talks begun in 2008 “to open rapidly developing Asian markets to U.S. products.” Exports are extremely important to farmers, and especially to pork producers. The ag industry hopes the TPP will be passed in President Obama’s “lame duck” session, so it’s done before a new president takes office.