Wallaces Farmer

Say a German farm magazine asks you how the presidential election will affect U.S. agriculture, in 200 words or less. What would you say? Here’s what I tried to say.

Holly Spangler 1, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

November 15, 2016

2 Min Read

Last week, just before the election, my German friend and colleague Christian Muhlhausen messaged me on Facebook. I met Christian several years ago when we were both attending the International Federation of Ag Journalists Congress in Sweden. I was there for the Young Ag Journalists Boot Camp, which he’d gone through the year before. He’s an excellent photographer and puts out a beautiful magazine, Land & Forest. We’ve kept up ever since, thanks to social media, and chat occasionally about global agricultural issues.

post_election_rubble_whats_mean_ag_1_636147345173068000.jpgVOTE: Agreeing to write 200 words on the U.S. presidential election’s impact on agriculture was a lot easier on Monday than on Wednesday.

Still, I was surprised when he asked if I would write a reflection on the U.S. presidential election and what the outcome would mean to agriculture — in 200 words or less. It seemed easy enough on Monday — less so by Wednesday. Still, I gave it a shot.

I have a lot more I’d like to add, particularly about the rural-urban divide that absolutely and completely revealed itself last Tuesday. And how the Founding Fathers clearly saw it coming, writ in their handiwork of the Electoral College. Here’s a look at what I reported; let me know if you agree!

From an agricultural perspective, I believe we can draw a few conclusions from the U.S. presidential election. First, the results surprised virtually everyone. Second, Donald Trump had far more support than anyone realized. And third, Americans are divided by rural vs. urban; rural America made its discontent known in this election (plus, the Electoral College worked).

Here in the heart of the rural Midwest, farmers and small-business owners are profoundly disappointed with Obama administration policies, including EPA overreach (trying to regulate the tiniest body of standing water) and the Affordable Care Act (paid for by the middle class; one farmer’s annual premiums went from $4,500 per year in 2011 to $20,000 per year in 2017). In their minds, Hillary Clinton promised more of those policies. Journalists experienced less access throughout the Obama administration; our American Agricultural Editors’ Association even sent a letter to the president, protesting lack of access to key federal officials.

Certainly, there is concern about Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, and about his ideas regarding trade. Agriculture wants to be a good global neighbor. Neither Trump nor Clinton favor the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which agriculture strongly supports. We gained insight into Trump's agricultural policies this fall, but expect more details.

There’s also a sense among the rural farm community that the general media is mischaracterizing it, calling people uneducated, poorly read, desperate and intolerant. That’s certainly not true. The farm community loves its neighbors, wants sensible immigration reform, desires racial and gender equality, and is very educated.

We are hopeful and waiting to see what’s next.

Holly Spangler,
Prairie Farmer/Penton Agriculture
Illinois, USA

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler 1

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

Holly Spangler has covered agriculture for the past 18 years, beginning her career with Prairie Farmer before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications. As editor of Prairie Farmer magazine, she brings meaningful production agriculture experience to the topics she covers, including a variety of production, management and issue-oriented stories. She also offers up her generation's take on the issues of the day through her monthly column and blog, My Generation.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is a member and past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. She was named Master Writer in 2005 and in 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association and MidAmerica Croplife Association. Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the 2011 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the College of ACES Alumni Board, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth.

She graduated in 1998 from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications, and received the Warren K. Wessels Award for outstanding senior in the College of ACES. Immediately following graduation, she was a founding member of the U of I Ag Communications Alumni Leadership Council, and in 2011, the College of ACES named her an Outstanding Young Alumni.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and cattle on 2,000 acres. Their operation includes 100 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John's parents, and their three children, Jenna, Nathan and Caroline.

Holly is also active in the Illinois Farm Families program, and shares the story of agriculture and communications with a variety of groups and organizations, both within and outside of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations, receiving the Illinois Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Achievement Award in 2007.

Locally, Holly and her husband serve with their county's 4-H program, their school district and in their church's youth and music ministries. 

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