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President Donald Trump with Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Trump touches on ag issues in the State of the Union

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress and subsequently the nation this week in an hour and 21-minute State of the Union address. It was clear that border security was at the forefront of the President’s agenda, as he mentioned the quickly approaching deadline for government funding which, if an agreement isn’t reached, will end in a government shutdown.

Agriculture was mentioned when President Trump boasted his administration’s elimination of the estate or death tax, mentioning specifically family farms and U.S. ranchers. That comment received a roar of applause from those in attendance. The farm bill got a nod from the Commander in Chief in the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. Trade was also a talking point, saying that the United States has placed tariffs on $350 billion of goods imported from China. President Trump also said that the negotiations will have to include a structural change to the deal that protects American jobs and ends the trade deficit, but there was no direct mention of how that will impact agriculture.

The former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its proposed successor the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA were both mentioned as the President urged members of Congress to support the bill to “expand American agriculture.” In addition, the President urged Congress to pass the Reciprocal Trade Act, which proposes to place the same tariff on a given country should they place a tariff on the United States.

In the 10-minute Democratic response that was delivered by Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, it was noted that farmers were caught in the middle of the trade war between the U.S. and the Chinese. She also mentioned that agriculture, among several other industries were stronger with immigrants.

The American Farm Bureau praised the President’s comments.

“President Trump has outlined bold priorities in his State of the Union address, and we hope the administration and Congress can move forward in a bipartisan manner to make progress toward the goals that we all share. Farmers and ranchers across the country need reforms to our immigration system, and we echo President Trump’s call for Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to preserve and build on the export gains with our North American neighbors. At the same time, we support bipartisan efforts to rebuild and modernize our nation’s infrastructure, including broadband technology in rural areas,” said Zippy Duvall, AFBF president. “Farm Bureau also appreciates President Trump’s message of optimism and unity. The bipartisan passage of the farm bill last year shows that our elected leaders can come together and achieve great things for our country.”

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