President tells farmers to expect a bright future


Issue Date: January 16, 2019
By Dave Kranz

Promising farmers "the greatest harvest is yet to come," President Trump said his actions on regulatory reform, tax policy, trade and immigration would bring both short-term and long-term benefits.

For a second straight year, Trump came to the American Farm Bureau Federation convention, speaking Monday to the organization's 100th annual gathering in New Orleans, and said the future for American farmers "is bigger, better, greater, bolder and brighter than ever before."

The president said his administration's actions to reduce regulations and reduce taxes have had immediate benefits for rural America, and reassured farmers that the administration's trade policies would lead to more-open markets for U.S. farm products.

He spent the bulk of his 55-minute speech addressing the issue that led to a partial federal-government shutdown: immigration policy and the need for a wall or barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Citing a "tremendous humanitarian crisis on the border," Trump reiterated his call for a border barrier, saying illegal immigration "impacts all Americans."

At the same time, he said, "I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally. They have to come in through a process."

Trump said he recognized that farmers and ranchers depend on a largely immigrant workforce.

"You need people to help you with the farms; I'm going to make that easier for them to come in and to work the farms," he said, adding that people entering the U.S. for farm jobs "are going to help our country."

The president said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is doing "everything in its power" to help through the government shutdown, and said many people affected by the shutdown have encouraged the administration to continue to press for border-barrier funding.

Trump said the administration is fighting for farmers and ranchers "on every front," and described actions he said have helped agriculture and rural regions.

He pointed to tax-cut legislation enacted last year that has benefited farmers, including "virtually eliminating" the federal estate tax.

The president said his administration has led "the most sweeping regulatory reform at any time in history," noting that USDA alone rolled back almost $400 million in regulatory costs last year, and is projected to more-than-double those savings this year.

"We're saving farmers and ranchers from one of the most ridiculous regulations ever imposed on anybody in our nation, the waters of the United States rule," the president said, referring to a 2015 Obama administration rule criticized by farm groups and other organizations for granting federal agencies greater authority over land and water.

Last month, the administration unveiled a new Clean Water Rule, meant to replace the 2015 WOTUS rule, that it said would help landowners distinguish more clearly what is and what isn't a water of the U.S.

"We are going to keep federal regulators out of your stock tanks, your drainage ditches, your puddles and your ponds," Trump said. "We're going to get government off your backs so you can earn a living and support your families, doing what you love."

The president said the newly signed 2018 Farm Bill "delivers for our farmers on a wide range of priorities," singling out changes to crop insurance and loan programs, plus a commitment to improve broadband service in rural areas.

On trade, Trump said the administration is "replacing one-sided, unfair trade deals."

The ongoing trade dispute between China and the U.S. has hurt exports of American farm products to China, but Trump said negotiations have brought progress toward improving trade. He said the administration has taken "the toughest-ever actions to confront China's unfair trade practices" that have hurt U.S. farmers and ranchers.

"We want a fair deal for American farmers, removing China's arbitrary demands on agricultural imports, safeguarding our intellectual property and providing fair market access to all American producers," Trump said.

He also discussed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, negotiated to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, calling it "a landmark deal" that would increase U.S. farm exports.

"We urge Congress to support American agriculture, stand up for American workers, and hopefully they will approve the USMCA quite quickly," the president said.

Trump said the administration is working to "reverse the damage of decades of unfair trade," and noted that it has provided up to $12 billion in relief for farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs.

"No one understands better than our great farmers that the tough choices we make today reap rewards for centuries to come," he said.

California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson, who attended the speech, said the president's appearance underlined the importance he places on rural America.

"For him to speak to AFBF two years in a row shows that he recognizes how farmers, ranchers and rural Americans contribute to our nation's overall prosperity and security," Johansson said. "Farmers want a cooperative working relationship with their government on every level, and this administration has certainly made that a priority."

(Dave Kranz is editor of Ag Alert. He may be contacted at dkranz@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.