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Trump Will Defend Ag Sector, Says Administration Advisor

Dec 14, 2016
Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and Helena Bottemiller Evich, Senior Food and Agriculture Reporter at Politico.

The Trump Administration will be a strong advocate for the U.S. agricultural sector and the president-elect will do “everything he can” to protect the market for agricultural trade, said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and former U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary, in remarks delivered this week.

Conner was the keynote speaker during the “Agriculture and the Next Administration” program hosted on Monday by Politico, a news and information company, in Washington, D.C. Audra Kruse, IDFA communications specialist, attended the event, where Connor offered a confident outlook on the president-elect’s commitment to agriculture and tried to assuage fears that agricultural exports would be harmed because of the campaign’s trade agenda.

Conner serves on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee and has been mentioned as a potential nominee for secretary of agriculture. He declined comment when asked during the session whether he is being actively recruited or if he wanted the position, leaving the door open on his role in the new administration.

Ag Policy in the New Administration

According to Conner, Trump’s campaign has been more open about its agricultural policy, sharing more details than prior presidential campaigns. Connor also referenced the administration’s talking points on agriculture, recently mentioned in Politico, that include promises to “defend American agriculture against its critics, particularly those who have never grown or produced anything beyond a backyard tomato plant.”

“I think it means a Trump-Pence Administration will be a strong advocate of our current agricultural system,” he said about the promise. “That is a remarkable policy statement.”

Connor explained the administration’s thinking on agricultural regulations, which he expects to be appropriate, scientific-based regulations not tied to trends in social media. He specifically mentioned genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“Clearly it is an issue out there where there is information galore on social media sort of raising all kinds of questions and concerns about GMOs,” Connor said. “Those concerns that are being raised generally have no basis in science.” He added that president-elect Trump will want “his chief farm and food person” to advocate for regulations based in science.

Conner also said he “wasn’t losing any sleep” over the administration’s anti-trade rhetoric and its potential to have negative effects on U.S. agricultural exports.

“The president-elect is acknowledging that agriculture depends upon trade,” he said. “He acknowledges that in those talking points and says he will do everything he can to protect and enhance that market.”

He explained that Trump’s trade talk is aimed more at benefitting American manufacturers and that it won’t have unintended negative consequences on agricultural exports, saying “it’s a difficult balancing act.”

A replay of the event is available online at The event’s social media conversations are available by searching #2017Agriculture on Twitter.

For more information, contact Kruse at

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