It’s time to breakdown the hottest political topics here at home and with our neighbours to the south with D.C. policy analyst for Pro Farmer, Jim Wiesemeyer. In this podcast, Wiesemeyer and Haney jump in to a myriad of cross-border issues, shedding light on current political situations in both Canada and the U.S. (scroll to the bottom to download for later).
1. Government Shutdowns: A Crucial Concern
The podcast started with the topic of the recent potential government shutdown in the U.S. Wiesemeyer pointed out that the Senate was leaning towards a clean stopgap spending bill, avoiding controversial funding areas. Yet, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy finds himself in a challenging spot, torn between a group of Republicans who are against a clean continuing resolution and those favoring it. Wiesemeyer elaborated on the real-life implications of a shutdown. Specifically, while a significant portion of USDA staff would remain, others would be furloughed, delaying services and processes. Politically, it becomes a blame game with parties pointing fingers at each other.
2. Political Approval Ratings – A Tale of Two Leaders
A significant part of the conversation centered around the falling approval ratings of both President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. With Biden’s rating at 41 per cent and Trudeau at a surprising 29 per cent, both leaders are under significant public scrutiny. Yet, as both Haney and Wiesemeyer pointed out, the political landscape seems polarized, with many voters voting against rather than for candidates.
3. The Ukraine Situation and International Funding
Ukraine’s situation garnered much attention, especially concerning the $113 billion that the US has provided for various needs, including farming. With increasing scrutiny on where this aid goes, Wiesemeyer highlighted that lawmakers are looking for a list of reforms from Ukraine. The trust factor seems to be dwindling, potentially delaying further financial support.
4. The Political Future: More Questions than Answers
Both Canada and the U.S. appear to be in political quagmires. Whether it’s Canada’s Conservative party trying to keep its base happy or the U.S.’s impending elections with polarizing figures like Trump, the future remains uncertain. Wiesemeyer summed it up aptly, noting that many wish to vote for someone rather than against, yet current options leave much to be desired.
5. Right to Repair
The Right to Repair legislation, introduced in both the US House Representatives and Senate, has sparked widespread discussion. Originating from a proposal by lawmakers including Washington Democrats and Republicans, it mirrors a previous bill by Democrat Senator John Tester from Montana. Aimed at providing farmers with the right to repair agricultural equipment, this legislation has gained momentum as a populist issue. However, its controversial nature mirrors debates like those around US pipeline issues. Typically, controversial legislation faces hurdles, often not being called for a vote or being attached to must-pass spending bills.
6. Farm Profitability:
Farm profitability is a significant concern, especially with potential savings from the Right to Repair legislation estimated at $4.2 billion annually for American farmers by the US National Farmers Union. Farmers are grappling with rising input and diesel prices, which are exacerbated by fluctuating commodity prices, impacting cash flow not only in the US but also in Canada. European weather could further escalate diesel prices, adding to the farmers’ financial strain. The conversation on profitability extends to market dynamics, trade policies, and the evolving focus in agricultural produce, such as the shift in soybean crushing for oil over meal.