U.S. farm groups discuss policy with
Clinton staff, pursue Trump
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[June 30, 2016]
By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. agriculture
groups are pushing for continuing talks with the presumptive Democratic
and Republican presidential nominees in an effort to influence their
farm policy positions as a slump in crop prices squeezes the sector's
Representatives of about a dozen trade associations, including the
American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, met
with staffers for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday at
her New York campaign headquarters.
It was the farm coalition's first meeting with Clinton's staff and
included discussions of issues ranging from agricultural trade and
labor to mandatory labels for foods containing genetically modified
ingredients, attendees said on Wednesday.
The meeting was the start of a push by the sector for more details
from Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump about their stances
on issues affecting farmers and agribusiness. The groups are seeking
a meeting with Trump's campaign.
"All of us agreed, on both sides of the table, that it is a
successful meeting only if it's the first of a number of exchanges,"
said Jay Vroom, the chief executive of pesticide association
CropLife America, who attended the session.
The candidates' agriculture policies are crucial, the groups say,
because net U.S. farm income is forecast to drop to its lowest since
2002, largely due to a decline in grain prices. If that happens,
incomes will be down 56 percent from a recent high of $123.3 billion
"With that kind of climate, we're definitely concerned about what
farm policy will look like building to the next (congressional) farm
bill," said Tom Bryant, the National Farmers Union's membership
If elected, Clinton will increase agricultural production and
profitability for family farms, spokesman Tyrone Gayle said. A Trump
spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a town
hall discussion with digital content creators in Los Angeles,
California, U.S. June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Matt Paul, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman working
with Clinton's campaign, participated in the meeting.
The gathering came a day after Britain's surprise vote to exit the
European Union, which drew support from some regions with low
Chandler Goule, incoming CEO of the National Association of Wheat
Growers, said farm groups drew parallels to Britain's referendum
because "it's going to be rural America that's going to turn out for
this election, that's actually going to determine the outcome of
this (presidential) election."
Now that Clinton and Trump are the presumed nominees, "it's time to
start making more detailed and more in-the-weeds-type commitments,"
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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