President-elect Donald J. Trump has made many promises about many things, and has walked back just as many in the days since the election – the Mexican “wall,” tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, repealing Obamacare, exiting NATO, etc.
We don’t know yet which of his food policy promises he will keep. But let’s remind ourselves what he has said, just in case.
UNDOCUMENTED FARM LABOR
President-elect Trump has said he will stop illegal immigration. The effect on our food supply and food prices is significant.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, most of the produce picked in this country is picked by undocumented workers. The reason is “the local legal labor pool is not only small but unwilling to work in agriculture.”
Without undocumented labor, the Federation predicts:
- a 1 to 3 percent reduction in grain production;
- a 27 percent reduction in meat production;
- a 31 percent drop in vegetable production; and
- a 61 percent drop in fruit production.
Without undocumented labor:
- farmers overall will see a 15-29 percent drop in farm income;
- fruit and vegetable farmers will see a 30-40 percent drop in net revenues.
At the same time, says the Federation, food prices will go up five to six percent.
President-elect Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and has installed a climate change denier as the environment lead on his transition team. Trump has vowed to dismantle EPA and stop federal efforts to mitigate climate damage.
This could devastate farmers.
Climate change means more severe weather and more prolonged droughts, both of which are already affecting farmers. This damages not just fruit and vegetable farmers, but cattle farmers as well. USDA reports that drought in cattle-producing areas increased beef prices by 34 percent from 2010 to 2014 and herd sizes are near historic lows. USDA predicts “catastrophic losses” to the meat industry if we ignore the effects of climate change.
Trump said during the campaign that he intended to undo the Congressionally-mandated food safety and food hygiene regulations that are designed to prevent the spread of sometimes-deadly food-borne illnesses from fresh produce. Trump called FDA’s oversight of food safety “regulatory overkill.”
He has since, however, removed any mention of FDA’s food policy from his economic plan. We may need to wait to see who he picks as his HHS Secretary and whether he replaces the FDA Commissioner.
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We will report here on the new Administration’s food policy as it develops — stay tuned.