President-elect Donald Trump’s new administration comes with a lot of unknowns. Since Trump has never held political office, he’s headed into uncharted waters and people aren’t sure what to expect. On Monday, Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations with American Farm Bureau Federation, spoke on AgriTalk about what the Trump presidency will mean for agriculture.
“Everybody’s guess is even more of a guess,” said Thatcher.
She believes a more solid opinion of Trump could form when he makes his pick for Secretary of Agriculture. While there is a list of dozen names, she said none of them could be considered and someone else could get the position. Typically, whoever will lead the EPA and USDA will find out in mid-Decembers, said Thatcher.
According to Thatcher, farmers who elected Trump to the presidency felt strongly on two issues: healthcare and regulations, more specifically EPA regulations. She wants the public to set their expectations appropriately, citing Waters of the United States (WOTUS). While President-elect Trump has mentioned he wants to get rid of WOTUS, don’t expect it to get done on day one.
“It takes just as long to unwind a regulation as it does to wind one up,” said Thatcher, who expects to see WOTUS gone with a timeframe of 12 to 18 months.
Since there is no track record for Trump in politics, many in ag are concerned the role his administration will play in a farm bill. Thatcher said one thing is “for sure” when it comes to the next farm bill: both the Senate and House Ag Committees are intending to start hearings in early 2017, around the same time as confirmation hearings for the USDA.
“Farmers are gearing up for the debate on the upcoming farm bill,” said Thatcher. “[They] will be able to raise concerns they have, even if they don’t yet know the answers.”
Hear why Thatcher is optimistic on turning Trump around on trade and immigration on AgriTalk above.