When Mr. Trump arrived at the White House, his supporters joked about turning the garden into a putting green. His agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, moved the department’s largest science-based research agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, from Washington to Kansas City, Mo. Whether by design or by default — many employees resigned rather than move — the staffs were gutted, limiting the agencies’ effectiveness.
Mr. Trump became a champion in many rural communities, easing regulations, and paying farmers when his tough trade policies and the pandemic hurt sales.
“In my over 40 years of covering the business of agriculture from Washington have I ever seen a president talk about agriculture and trade policy as much as our president,” Jim Wiesemeyer, a Farm Journal Washington correspondent, said in an interview with the magazine.
But the mood was bleak on the other side. “Looking back on it, it was pretty brutal,” said Laura Batcha, the chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association, which represents a $50 billion segment of the food industry. “The root of it was a hyper-anti-regulatory agenda with no respect for organics or other forms of sustainable agriculture.”