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What US farmers can expect from Obama presidency

US agricultural analysts suggest farmers can expect little short-term change from president-elect Barack Obama. Longer-term, they note he is a bio-fuels supporter yet less enthusiastic when it comes to restarting the stalled Doha Round negotiations of the World Trade Organization.

November 12, 2008  By Delta Farm Press

November 12, 2008

Canadian farmers, like their US counterparts, are curious to know how a new administration will affect their decisions and outcomes on the farm.  And now that the voters have spoken — finally — US farmers are about to find out what it will mean to them to have a Barack Obama administration.

Don’t expect any major policy pronouncements right away — the president-elect may have to focus on a little thing like fixing the economy first. 


For now, farm organization leaders and ag writers are left having to review the Obama campaign’s previous statements on agricultural issues to such groups as the National Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers’ Union to get a sense of what he might do.

During the campaign, Obama spokesmen seemed to go out of their way to emphasize their candidate’s support for renewable fuels, due, in part, to the Illinois senator’s relationship with the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

Obama is also expected to be less of a free-trade enthusiast than the current president. One farm organization CEO alluded to that in assessing the odds for restarting the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy was expected to come to Washington in mid-November to try to enlist U.S. help in getting the Doha talks under way again.

“If he meets with the Obama transition team, he (Lamy) is likely to have heart failure,” the CEO said. “The Obama people have indicated they want to look at every detail of the Doha agreement before they agree to restart anything.”

In comments to the Corn Growers prior to the election, Obama said he understands trade is vital to the agricultural sector, noting that 50 percent of the wheat, 20 percent of the corn and 35 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are exported.

Obama indicated he would support full funding of market promotion programs — something which Republican presidential nominee John McCain had said he would not do.

Obama also pledged to “break down trade and investment barriers that restrict our access to markets” and continue to support bipartisan efforts to lift bans on U.S. beef.

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