As the election nears, many are wondering about Trump’s political calculus. The Office of Special Counsel recently chided Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for violating federal law by using his official position to campaign for Trump, promising a North Carolina crowd in August that subsidies will continue for “four more years … if America gets out and votes for this man, Donald J. Trump.”

The Trump administration’s aggressive foray into protectionism has been costly to farmers, but misguided agricultural policies obviously predate the trade war. Every five years in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, the U.S. Congress doles out billions of dollars in subsidies to the U.S. agriculture industry in a hodgepodge of various programs. Like the Trump administration’s bailouts, these policies aren’t just expensive. They also largely benefit wealthy farms and corporations while failing to provide an adequate safety net for family farms. This inequity extends beyond U.S. borders: Domestic subsidies hurt farmers in developing countries who cannot compete with heavily subsidized agriculture from the wealthiest country in the world. A staggering 40 percent of the agriculture sector’s income this year will come from government subsidies.

Despite the enormous setback for American farmers due to Trump’s tariffs and trade wars, a reversal is possible. That the U.S. public has soured on foreign trade is a popular political narrative, but it’s unfounded. In fact, more Americans support trade than any other time in the last quarter century. Policymakers in Washington can capitalize on this enthusiasm to expand market access for American farmers and ranchers by unwinding Trump’s tariff wars and rejoining the TPP to improve access to vital Asian markets. Finally, and perhaps most critically, the United States should use its biggest bargaining chip—reining in domestic subsidies—to jumpstart multilateral negotiations at the World Trade Organization, where agricultural subsidies and tariffs have long been a major stumbling block.

Trump deserves a lot of blame for his misguided trade and agriculture policies. But many of the excesses in the U.S. system—sold to the public as a safety net for family farms but largely a system of corporate welfare for the largest producers—have a long bipartisan history. The next administration can and should do better.

Clark Packard is a trade policy counsel at the R Street Institute in Washington and a former attorney and policy advisor to then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

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