Cansler Consulting, LLC Founder and Chief Strategist Tim Cansler offered his analysis of the first six months of the Trump Administration and political implications in 2018 of the enormous legislative agenda before a fractured Republican caucus in the US House and a razor-close Republican controlled U.S. Senate to a packed crowd of County Farm Bureau Presidents and leaders of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, the largest state Farm Bureau in the U.S.
Tennessee Farm Bureau is made up of 95 county farm bureaus throughout the state. Typically, county farm bureaus are the largest organization in each respective county. The Farm Bureau implements a true grassroots process as policy-making decisions begin at the county Farm Bureau level where resolutions are crafted and adopted by farm and ranch family members.
Cansler told the group the U.S. Congress is attempting to address some of the Farm Bureau’s priority legislative issues like regulatory reforms, tax reforms, immigration reform, infrastructure investments and a new Farm Bill. But, the legislative agenda is stalled as republicans in the U.S. Senate only maintain control by a slim, three-vote majority (52) and need a minimum of 60 votes to break a filibuster on legislation. Although Republicans are in control of the U.S. House, their caucus is divided into at least three main groups namely: the Republican Study Committee, the (more conservative) Freedom Caucus, and the (more moderate) Tuesday Group. Cansler said, “If legislation is to successfully move through this Congress it will need bipartisan support, or be under procedural instructions contained in a congressional Budget Resolution known as reconciliation that requires only a simple majority (51) vote in the U.S. Senate. In the U.S. House, Republican members in their varying ideological factions must reach an agreement on passing legislation where none will achieve 100% of their respective policy goals.”
Cansler added, “The internal challenges faced by the Trump Administration are a distraction to the enormous legislative agenda before Congress. It also does not help that President Trump has a 38.5% approval rating, according to Real Clear Politics. Going back to the Truman Administration only Presidents, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton had similarly low approval ratings 6-months in to their term. Ford at 39%, Clinton at 41%.” Cansler noted, “Both Ford and Clinton rebounded and finished their presidential terms at 53% and 66%, respectively. President Trump still has a little time to rebound, but can only do so if he changes his polarizing tactics.”
On agricultural trade and the upcoming negotiations on NAFTA and the withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Cansler said he hopes the focus remains on the fact that U.S. agricultural exports have been in a slump since 2014. “I will not argue that trade agreements may need some adjustments, if they can be successfully negotiated, but I do question the timing. Are we really going to the trade negotiating table at the same time we are writing a Farm Bill that likely will add support to the U.S. cotton and dairy sectors,” Cansler questioned? Cansler recalled the dispute settlement case (DS267) against specific provisions of the U.S. cotton program won by Brazil in the World Trade Organization (2002-2014). In that case the WTO dispute panel ruled that certain support payments for cotton distorted international agricultural markets and should be either withdrawn or modified. It also prohibited Step-2 payments and export credit guarantees for cotton and other commodities.
Regarding the 2018 Farm Bill Cansler commended both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for “moving the bill along in its typical bipartisan fashion.” House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) has said at recent Listening Sessions that he and his Committee would like to have the new Farm Bill on the floor of the U.S. House by the end of 2017 or early in 2018. Cansler said “This would be exceptional timing as USDA will need six-to-twelve months to implement the new Farm Bill. That means wheat producers in south Texas planting their wheat crop in September 2018 for harvest in May 2019 will have plenty of time to learn and understand implications to any changes in the new Farm Bill.
“There are between 48 and 60 legislative days remaining in the first session of the 115th Congress. With multiple large legislative initiatives Congress is undertaking, I really hope all Members of Congress understand the critical timeline of enacting a new Farm Bill and the importance of producers knowing ahead of time the programs supporting their respective crops,” Cansler added.