For ag and rural places, more of the same Nov. 9



It’s hard to imagine much changing in agriculture and rural America as a result of the November presidential election if the current polls ring true.

President Hillary Clinton — I know the sound is tough to hear for friend and foe alike — is completely woven into the ag supply chain by sheer necessity of political survival in Arkansas and later Washington. She is considering Blanche Lincoln, a former US Senator from Arkansas, to succeed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. The Washington Post reported last week that she has another four candidates on her short list, all of whom have significant ties to corporate ag — the meat, ethanol, corn and chemical complex — and extensive Washington history.

Clinton is likely to appoint a sharp Environmental Protection Agency administrator to push the envelope, while the USDA will push back in all the right places to keep the supply chain intact.

Clinton will favor renewable energy (including corn-based ethanol and wind energy) and will continue to seek ways to exempt agriculture from any sort of regulation.

It is fairly easy to predict because the Clintons are predictable. They go with the corporate flow while ruddering the torrents here and there toward progress.

In the improbable event of a Donald Trump presidency, little is predictable. We know that he will support corn-based ethanol because the Branstad Administration is his de-facto agriculture cabinet. Eric Branstad, Terry’s son, is Trump’s Iowa director. Trump has been winning Iowa with this team. It’s the one area in his campaign that is functioning.

Trump’s ethanol support is really all we know, since the New Yorker doesn’t have an ag or rural policy whatsoever. It revolves around his support for ethanol.

Trump also wants to deport up to 15 million undocumented immigrants. That would pretty much shut down meatpacking in the Midwest.

He thinks climate change is a hoax. So we’re not seeing much of a Trump windmill plan to help out Warren Buffett, Hillary’s man in Nebraska.

As long as Perrier is available at the Trump Tower, there will be no fuss over water quality or the toxic pollution of the Mississippi River from Upper Midwest row crops. He has never heard of the Raccoon River and the nation’s hottest ag lawsuit over who is responsible for straying crop nutrients. He might just send the bill to the Gulf of Mexico in a bottle thrown in at Lake Itasca.

We just don’t know what Trump will do. We would know what he would do with a farm wife under a covered bridge in Madison County, but that’s just fantastic because we know you can’t land a jet on a gravel road. It might scratch the paint.

Bill Clinton is not on the ballot. His agriculture secretary, Mike Espy, liked to go to sporting events on the Tyson plane. His next ag secretary, Dan Glickman of Wichita, went from the Cabinet to the lobbyist for Hollywood. During the 1990s soil erosion into Northwest Iowa lakes was picking up speed at exponential rates as row cropping intensified and ethanol picked up production.

The floods of 1993 should have told the Clinton Administration and Iowans that it was time to do something different. Just a few weeks ago the Linn County Courthouse and jail were evacuated because of flooding.

You would barely know the difference between the Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations in their view of rural affairs. They all sort of like the limbo of our current immigration policy because it keeps working people down and in the shadows. It’s hard to organize an effective union when the worker thinks you might be in cahoots with the federales.

Hillary Clinton says she will put in a comprehensive immigration plan within her first 100 days. Unless the Red Sea parts, there’s no way it gets through the House under the spinning head leadership of Paul Ryan.

Clinton believes in climate change. She rides in a black limo that appears to get about 4 mpg and has press conferences on an airplane that gets worse mileage. Anybody in the Justice Department want to sue over the Bakken pipeline? Not just yet. Evaluating the situation. Consulting with the Native Americans, because they have always been able to defend themselves against white men desecrating their graves, killing off their food source and poisoning them. What do they want? We gave them casinos.

But she does believe in climate change. We know that because Buffett owns windmills.

She favors climate resiliency. That means Iowa will get more disaster grants after the next 500-year flood in two years. She favors clean water, so long as it is voluntary and will not slow down the Bayer-Monsanto merger.

It will be more of the same. Republicans will say Clinton is out to do in the American farmer. They will sue the EPA. The ag secretary will make nice while the case spends 10 years working through the courts. Farmer Jones will rent out another 160 as Farmer Smith dies and make denser his corn plantings. We will chase Mexicans around Denison and Storm Lake and call it border enforcement, and we will turn back women and children trying to flee drug cartels and lock them up in a Texas bunker. That’s what is happening. It will continue to happen on Nov. 9.

We Iowans let them get away with it. We never forced a discussion. Because we all really knew it would be more of the same.