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Trump, Clinton differences on rural policies evident with stances on federal regulations

ST. PAUL--Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not talk much about rural issues on the campaign trail, but there is plenty of evidence showing they differ greatly on the subject.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Shale Insight energy conference in Pittsburgh Sept. 22, 2016. (Reuters photo by Jonathan Ernst)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Shale Insight energy conference in Pittsburgh Sept. 22, 2016. (Reuters photo by Jonathan Ernst)

ST. PAUL-Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do not talk much about rural issues on the campaign trail, but there is plenty of evidence showing they differ greatly on the subject.

Trump generally buys into traditional Republican ideas and Clinton embraces Democratic principles. And perhaps nothing illustrates the contrast better than how they stand on federal government regulations, an issue common among farmers and miners, energy workers and homeowners.

Both sides say they will work with those who affected by regulations, but that is about where the agreement ends.

"Terrible rules are written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who often know nothing about the people they are regulating," Trump said, adding that often environmentalists have more say in regulation development than rural Americans affected by the rules.

He promised that "rational cost-benefit tests will be used to ensure that any regulation is justified before it is adopted."

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The federal rule that most gets under rural residents' skin is known as Waters of the U.S., which is in front of a court that is deciding its constitutionality.

Trump promises to appoint a "pro-farmer" Environmental Protection Agency administrator as his top priority on the subject, quickly followed by getting rid of the water rule.

"This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property," his campaign says.

While Trump's people say he will work to ensure that American water is clean, Waters of the U.S. goes overboard.

Clinton, meanwhile, likes the water rule but says it can be tweaked.

The Politico online news service reported in September that Clinton made her first comments on WOTUS, calling for "common sense implementation" of it. While not specific about what she meant, Clinton said she was happy that the EPA continues to allow "long-standing exceptions for common farming practices."

"Clinton's position could undermine her already tepid support among rural voters, because the agricultural industry fiercely opposes WOTUS, with 13 ag-land groups-including the Farm Bureau and National Pork Producers Council-involved in lawsuits against it," Politico reported.

Much of Clinton's talk about regulations centers on making the process more transparent to the public.

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"As president, I will work with Congress to reform our regulatory system," she said. "We will reduce the power of government bureaucrats, and increase the freedom of our nation's farmers to be as productive as possible."

She promised to not enact "unjustified regulations."

Farm bill

Both candidates promise to include farm groups in drafting of a new set of federal agriculture-related laws, a process that could begin as early as next year.

Clinton's campaign said she would target federal money to crop insurance, commodity payments and disaster assistance. All are especially important now, the campaign said, because of current low prices for crops and other farm goods.

The Democrat proposes doubling federal money going into the beginning farmer and rancher program.

Rural development programs also should be in the farm bill, the Clinton campaign said, to fund broadband access, improve soil health, manage sewage and provide better credit access to small businesses.

Trump has said his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will be a key ag advisor. He also says he supports "a strong safety net for our nation's farmers."

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The Republican does not go into detail about the safety net, but generally that includes crop insurance and other provisions that pay farmers when natural or economic disasters hit.

Trump promotes an ag advisory committee he set up to help him with farm issues, but a spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a member of the group, said the Trump campaign has not contacted him for any advice.

Immigration

Farmers in many parts of the country hire immigrants to work the fields and meat processing plants often have immigrant-heavy worker lists.

Neither type of job appeals to many Americans.

The agriculture aspect of the immigration debate has been little discussed, but the candidates' overall stands on the issue tell the tale: Trump wants to limit immigration while Clinton favors giving illegal immigrants a pathway to American citizenship.

"Enormous stresses are being placed on our state and local government services, while jobs for American citizens and wages for American workers are in decline," Trump said, factors he blamed at least in part on immigration.

His best-known proposal is to build a wall along the Mexican border. "A nation without borders is not a nation."

He also said that that the federal government must protect American jobs. "Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans."

Clinton's campaign said she knows "the migrant farm workers play a critical role in developing and supporting our agriculture economy. She has heard from farmers across the country about our broken immigration system."

The Democrat promises to introduce immigration reform in her first 100 days in office featuring a way that illegal immigrants may become citizens. "It will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy."

The immigration debate is closely related to race, according to Dee Davis of the Centers for Rural Strategies.

Rural Trump supporters agree with the candidate that Mexicans are stealing American jobs, even if they like Mexicans they know in their communities.

"People we know are fine," Davis said people thing. "But those sneaking across the border are bad. ... "People are people. They tend to like their neighbors and often times are leery of people who live far away."

However, Davis said, the immigrant and race issue is being prompted by politicians. "It does not seem to be a naturally occurring phenomena in much of the country."

Energy

Clinton and Trump agree that renewable energy is good for the country, but there are deep differences in energy issues.

Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, also a former U.S. agriculture secretary under Republican President George W. Bush, said the difference is simple: Clinton favors phasing out coal and other fossil energy in favor of renewables such as solar, wind and plant-based fuels, while Trump likes continued coal and oil production.

Responding to questions by the Farm Bureau, Clinton said farmers have an important role in reducing carbon pollution by producing renewable energy. She praised their work in coming up with new ways to produce energy by using plants as raw material and noted that 99 percent of wind energy production comes from farms.

Clinton's campaign says she would launch a $60 billion "clean energy challenge" to attract more clean energy production.

The Democrat supports getting the federal renewable fuel standard "back on track" to drive new types of biofuel development.

Trump's views offer a stark contrast, other than also supporting ethanol.

"I support the use of domestic energy sources, including farm-grown fuel stocks such as ethanol," he said, while getting "the government out of the way of innovation among all forms of energy."

The Republican pledges to lift a moratorium that now bans oil drilling and other energy extraction on federal lands. He also would overturn existing environmental policies that he feels hinder energy production.

Trump is a strong backer of pipelines to move oil from production areas such as western North Dakota's Bakken region. He also would stop payments to the United Nations' global warming programs.

A senior Trump advisor, Jason Miller, said: "Donald Trump supports an all-of-the-above energy strategy that harnesses America's vast natural resources that will bring back jobs, revitalize our manufacturing center and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Trump supports the use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which is used to extract oil in western North Dakota and elsewhere. Clinton has said she would restrict the practice.

Many rural issues may not tip voters one way or another in the presidential race, but Professor Steve Kelley of the University of Minnesota said energy issues might do that.

"If they are in North Dakota's energy basin, the candidate's position on energy might make a big difference. "What we do with domestic sources of energy like coal and oil could have an impact on voters' views."

Mining

Most mining talk in the campaign has centered on underground mining in the eastern United States, with relatively little about strip mining such as at northeast Minnesota's taconite mines and North Dakota's coal mines.

However, the two have talked out against Chinese steel dumping that for a time brought much of the taconite mining to a halt.

They also have talked about clean-air policy, which provides an insight about how they would deal with coal mines. Clinton wants to tighten clean-air regulations to control coal pollution, while Trump would dump many of them.

International trade

Both candidates say they oppose the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal some farmers think could open $5 billion of Asian markets to them.

Clinton and other Democrats originally supported the President Barack Obama proposal, but many-including Clinton-now are turning against it.

"As soon as the details of the final TPP deal were finalized ... she came out in opposition," her campaign says.

Trump, meanwhile, has been a constant TPP opponent. "I strongly oppose TPP as drafted and will work hard to develop trade agreements that are in the national interest and benefit American workers, including our farmers."

Clinton voted against the only trade deal to come in front of the Senate while she served in that body because it did not meet her test of providing American jobs, raising wages and improving security.

Even though Trump has been outspoken against many existing trade deals, Schafer said there might be little he can do about it.

As agriculture secretary, Schafer said that he, not the president, did the actually trade negotiations when it came to farm products. "Trump doesn't see that. All he says he is the big negotiator."

"It is the people you surround yourself with who get in there and make the deals," Schafer said, and Trump has not signaled who he would pick for those key positions.

Broadband

Clinton has said she would put more federal money into expanding broadband Internet service in rural areas, while Trump says he supports broadband but has been less specific.

"She is very committed to expanding broadband access," Clinton supporter and former Deputy U.S. Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Ann Merrigan said, adding that is an important Minnesota issue, where one of two rural homes lack high-speed Internet access.

Trump appears to focus on wireless Internet connections as they way to expand broadband, Steve Kelley of the University of Minnesota said, while Clinton leans toward both wireless and fiber optic lines.

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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