"Plan for Rural America" how Biden plans to develop U.S. agriculture

27 november 2020
3 min
Author: Gulzhan Izteleuova

The question of how Joe Biden's victory in the U.S. presidential election will affect world politics has been discussed recently by many experts. The editors of World of NAN are more interested in the Biden administration's strategy for the development of agriculture and food security in the country.

Trump has "left his mark" on the U.S. agro-industrial complex

Prominent American analysts believe that four years of the Trump presidency has fundamentally changed the situation in the country's agribusiness, weakening protections for workers and the environment and affecting traditional trade relations. To be sure, the pandemic has contributed to some of these problems, but it has also provided an opportunity to expose problems of farmers and the food system that had been piling up for a long time to this point.

Joe Biden introduced a separate program for agricultural development in the country called the Plan for Rural America. Of course, this program is mainly designed for the election campaign, it is full of generalities and does not contain detailed specifics, but despite this, some conclusions can be made about his strategy and policy for the further development of agriculture in the country. 

In this regard, Biden's main grievances against the current U.S. president concerned Trump's approach to trade policy. The trade war with China, which began as a result of the U.S. imposition of high duties on China's industrial imports, quickly spread to many agricultural products, particularly soybeans.

As a result, since 2018, farmers across the country have lost billions of dollars in failed sales, putting enormous pressure on the already strained financial situation of farmers. And while the administration allocated money for direct payments to affected farmers, those funds were disproportionately distributed - going to large farms in the south, ending up in the hands of a few large corporations, while small family farms were left with nothing. A similar situation occurred during the pandemic, when direct payments to farmers were accompanied by instances of unequal and politically motivated distribution.

Biden's "Plan for Rural America" program

Biden, in his "Plan for Rural America," agrees that disparities in distribution occur, but makes no commitment to continuing or eliminating the payments, promising only to "save and revitalize small businesses across rural America."

And while Biden has been critical of Trump's trade wars in the past, his team so far intends to keep many of the outgoing administration's initiatives.  Despite this, the American Farmers Federation, the largest farm lobbying group in the country representing mostly conventional farmers, has signaled a willingness to work with the president to expand trade.

Biden is ready to invest in agriculture in a big way

It is worth noting that Joe Biden, in his campaign, emphasized the need to sustainably develop agriculture while protecting the environment. Up to 400 billion dollars of investments are to be directed to this direction, which is twice the amount spent by America to send a man to the moon.

Thus, Biden aims to achieve zero carbon emissions in agriculture by 2050. He wants to achieve this by increasing funding and expanding the Land Conservation Stewardship Program, under which farmers who produce individual crops that absorb carbon from the air will be able to receive incentive payments.

Biden also wants to devote a significant portion of the investment to developing the bioeconomy and producing new and improved biofuels.

"To protect our soil and water, to address climate change while turning grass, crop residues and other biomass into fuel," Biden stresses.

In addition to the beneficial effects on the environment, he believes that the development of the bioethanol industry, and the resulting increase in corn acreage, will create new jobs in rural America and new sources of income for farmers.

Biden's "Plan for Rural America" touched on other important points, including providing crop insurance, tightening antitrust laws (during the pandemic, American meat producers complained that meat processors colluded to lower purchase prices - ed.), and expanding agricultural research.

Will the plans come to fruition?

Because of the uncertain composition of Congress, it is still difficult to determine the chances of the Biden administration realizing such ambitious plans. The biggest intrigue here is the 2022 midterm elections, after which the priorities of the 2023 Farm's Bill, the main document that defines food policy in the country, will be determined.

However, even with legislative uncertainty, the Biden administration should be able to accomplish most of its agenda through executive action alone.