For the first time in over 25 years, a sitting President visited and addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. At this year’s event in Nashville, President Trump highlighted many items on his agenda that have Rural America in mind, including infrastructure, immigration reform, broadband access and much more.
He also touted some of his accomplishments throughout his first year in office that have already benefited America’s farmers and ranchers.
“We have been working every day to deliver for America’s farmers, just as they work every single day to deliver for us,” President Trump said. “We know that our nation was founded by farmers. Our independence was won by farmers. Our continent was tamed by farmers. Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers and throughout our history farmers have always led the way.”
The first of many standing ovations for President Trump came when he mentioned new tax regulations and one tax, in particular, that has weighed heavily on agriculture.
“Most family farms will be spared the punishment of the deeply unfair estate tax, known as the Death Tax, so you can keep your farms in your family,” Trump said. “What’s been happening is that a farm that does well, might have a value more than the income would justify and families would be forced to sell farms at a fire sale price or they go out and borrow too much money and end up losing the farm. That’s not going to happen anymore.”
The President also earned the applause of the farmer-filled audience when the topic of over-regulation was breached.
“As we put money back into the pockets of all Americans, we are also putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life,” Trump said. “For years, many of you have endured burdensome fines, inspections, paperwork and relentless intrusion from an army of regulators at the EPA, the FDA and countless other federal agencies.
“That’s why I am truly proud to report that within our first 11 months, my administration has cancelled or delayed over 1,500 planned regulatory actions or assaults, more that any other President in the history of the United States.”
President Trump’s administration has cut 22 regulations for every one new regulation since Inauguration Day, including Waters of the U.S., a major source of contention between the Environmental Protection Agency and American agriculture. He also said the nation’s farmers should expect a timely farm bill passage that includes crop insurance support.
“I look forward to working with Congress to pass the farm bill on time so that it delivers for all of you, and I support a bill that includes crop insurance,” Trump said.
With regard to trade, Trump reassured Farm Bureau members that he’s negotiating a better deal for farmers in the North American Free Trade Agreement. He pointed to previous success with opening the Chinese market to U.S. beef as evidence of his administration’s ongoing efforts to improve trade for agriculture.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spoke to AFBF members about the importance of trade to U.S. agriculture and the priority of successful NAFTA negotiations.
“To get a deal, we need all sides to seriously roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Perdue said. “We have put a number of proposals on the table to modernize NAFTA, and critically for agriculture, to address key sectors left out of the original agreement — dairy and poultry tariffs in Canada. Now, we want to see our negotiating partners step up and engage so we can get the deal done.”
Also at the event, Perdue ceremonially presented the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to President Trump. On April 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the task force “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.”
Perdue served as the task force’s chairman and identified over 100 recommendations to help improve life in rural America. The recommendations centered around five areas: E-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technology, and economic development.
“Since his inauguration, President Trump has made agriculture and rural America a high priority. On the day he swore me in to office, he tasked me with chairing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. With the voice of rural America leading the way, and in close collaboration with local, state, and tribal leaders, 22 federal agencies, offices, and executive departments accepted the challenge to make rural America great again. We traveled to 30 states, held two RV Tours covering over 2,200 miles, and most importantly, we listened to the people of rural America,” Perdue said. “While the task force worked tirelessly to identify solutions to the problems plaguing our rural communities, there is more work ahead. No doubt, rural America has struggled under burdensome regulations with no voice in Washington, but under President Trump’s leadership, and with the work of this task force, we can turn that around and restore rural prosperity once and for all.”
The president then, based upon some of the task force recommendations, signed two executive orders at the event. Both executive orders — “Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America” and “Supporting Broadband Tower Facilities in Rural America” — seek to improve access to rural Internet.
Trump opponents are quick to point out the ongoing agricultural concerns with vitally important trade deals and the continued uncertainty with immigration policies that impact farm workers, but Perdue emphasized that President Trump understands the importance of rural America as the breadbasket of the world.
“It is proof of the importance that he places on all of us — rural and urban, north, south, east, west, and Midwest — working together to make our country even greater,” he said. “One of the biggest reasons that we are the envy of the world is gathered right here in this room — the farmers of America. You feed this country and the world, with all of your labors every day.”