Well, another year is done. Happy New Government, by the way! Wherever you landed in the political spectrum, you can’t deny that 2017 is going to be interesting. With the election of Donald Trump as our 45th president, the country – if he stays true to his campaign promises – is going to experience a major shift, especially in trade and immigration.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention, President-Elect Trump had all but waged war on our country’s top trade partners, China being our top export market. Along with his strong stance on deporting illegal immigrants, Trump is also poised to turn back President Barack Obama’s executive orders, one of them ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DREAMer”) program that gives temporary work permits to immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Both policy actions clearly have garnered favor with the electorate, with Trump running up the score and doubling vote totals in the rural, agricultural regions. Albeit, war – real or figuratively in the case of trade – brings undesired casualties, which could end up becoming the U.S. farmer. During the election, one of Trump’s biggest battle cries was that once in office he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. While one can’t argue that the agreement has given the collective U.S worker a raw deal in a changing global landscape, it presents a point of contention with Mexico, our big partner in corn. Drawing that line in the sand with one of the biggest customers for the United States can leave U.S. growers literally holding the bag looking for new buyers.
Another slippery slope is immigration, and that presents a host of issues that will not get untangled any time soon. However, the rollback of the DREAMer program and 700,000-plus immigrants who might get deported will get things moving quickly. I harp on this particular action since one-third live in California, the top ag producing state. Depending on how intense the president-elect’s follow through with deportation is, the end result could put an unintended dent of employment in the commercial growing market in California as well as other West Coast states and throughout most of the U.S. Prepare to see some legal and political wrangling next year in this regard.
Please don’t read my words as gloom and doom. One advantage our new president proclaims is that he is a great negotiator. Voters placed Trump in the Oval Office because of his record as a successful businessman. Renegotiating a better trade deal for our country will be a challenge, but we have a president who brings experience in that area. Also, Trump advisors have stated more of a nuisance approach with immigrants holding ag-related work – again another chance to apply the president-elect’s talent to this particular concern.
There’s plenty to mull over for the new president, and my best hope is for him to succeed. Whether you’re for or against, you have to agree that at least this will be a fresh start. Let’s make 2017 great… again?