Many of Trump’s initial executive orders relate to affairs having only a remote effect on domestic food businesses or so it seems. Even temporary bans on immigration from seven countries, the early Trump step that prompted the strongest outcry, has implications still to be revealed in just how such moves might affect global wheat supply and demand and thus U.S. prices for wheat flour. Many of those nations prohibited from sending refugees, as well as regular visitors, to the United States have been buyers of wheat. If they were to respond by counter-moves to ban imports of U.S. wheat that would have an effect that is startlingly plain. Within the Trump range of actions, though, there is the possibility he would seek to offset any price weakness for a commodity like wheat by a bullish executive decision.
Hardly anything about the first days of the Trump administration would make grain-based foods executives feel better than his choice for the post of Secretary of Agriculture. He named George Ervin (Sonny) Perdue, a former governor of Georgia and most significantly an active participant in the country grain trade, reflecting the business Perdue created from his upbringing from a Georgia farm. Nothing about Perdue’s career speaks more directly to leadership than his being a member of the board of directors of the National Grain and Feed Association. It isn’t overreaching to describe Perdue as the most qualified appointment for the Cabinet made by Trump. The Secretary of Agriculture alone among the appointees has had experience in government.
Grain-based foods could not have wished for a better qualified appointment than Perdue at the start of an administration that will quickly have to make decisions about agricultural legislation soon expiring, meaning important issues need deciding. Once called “price support” legislation that had its start in the New Deal of the 1930s, the law was last amended in 2012 to extend its reach into almost every aspect of agriculture and thus to food production and food prices.
What has aptly been called President Trump’s cloud of uncertainty will not only affect such an important act, but the future requires both the President and the Congress to consider a huge range of issues and measures that combined to weigh heavily on the future of an industry like grain-based foods. Involved are regulations directly affecting how businesses operate to application of tax rates, from labeling of consumer food products to recommendations as well as directions on what people should eat. It is only a guess but Trump does not seem a likely advocate of government programs forcing people to maintain certain levels of dieting, eating less of some and more of other types of food. On balance, grain-based foods have lost more as the result of government eating advice and directives than almost any other industry. If Trump directs the government to suspend telling people what to eat and not to eat, he will have helped make America as well as the food industry stronger than ever thought possible before his election as president.