Although we live in a different country, Canadians are closely following the real-life theatre that is the U.S. presidential election.
“You guys have as much at stake as we do,” said Stu Ellis, only half-joking, when asked if he’d be willing to do an interview on the election for a Canadian farm audience at the Farm Progress Show in Iowa last week.
With upwards of five decades of experience reporting and commenting on agriculture, Ellis is very familiar with Canadian farmers’ dependence on exports to the U.S., and the negative comments Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been making about NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But what about American farmers, well-known for their conservative and free market thinking? Never mind the wall that Mexico is apparently going to pay for, how do they feel about the attacks on existing and proposed trade deals, especially those coming from the Republican nominee? Will Clinton revert to more pro-trade policy if elected, as many people in Canada hope and believe? And in general, what’s the feeling on the election in the U.S. farm community?
These were some of the questions I tried getting answers to while in Boone County last week.
“There’s so many people in this country wanting something different than the traditional elected officials have provided, and I think that is the consensus among the virtual majority of society. They’re begging for leadership,” explained David Brown, another veteran Midwest ag broadcaster. Brown is a colleague of Ellis’ on WAND-TV in Decatur and also farms in Macon County, Illinois.
In past election years, presidential nominees may have even taken advantage of the huge Farm Progress crowd and made an appearance. Most farmers there probably didn’t care, but there was no sign of either nominee — a telling sign of where ag ranks in Washington, noted Brown.
From trade to farm labour to how this election is rewriting U.S. political science textbooks, thanks to Stu Ellis and David Brown for taking some time to chat about the U.S. election and what it means for agriculture, on both sides of the border: