By Jacqui Fatka
In one of his first major addresses to many who helped secure his seat in the White House, President Donald Trump Monday addressed over 4,000 attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th annual convention, held in Nashville.
Since being elected, Trump said, “We have been working to deliver for American farmers, just as they are at work every single day to deliver for us.”
He added, “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, always, always led the way.”
“In every decision we make, we are honoring America’s proud farming legacy,” Trump continued.
After years of “crushing taxes” and “crippling regulations,” Trump said it had never been worse than it was before he got into office. “Corrupt politics left our economies hurting, stagnant and millions of hard-working employees completely forgotten. They are not forgotten anymore. We’re fighting for our farmers, and we’re fighting for our country and for our great American flag.”
Trump touted his tax bill. He said the “sleeper in the bill” is the ability for American farmers to deduct 100% of the cost of new equipment in the year the investment is made. “That is a tremendous thing,” he said of the ability to deduct it all in one year as opposed to over many years.
He received a standing ovation on the tax reform’s inclusion of increasing exemptions for the estate tax. “From now on, most family farms will be spared the punishment of the deeply unfair estate tax so you can keep your farms in your families.”
“Obviously you love your families, otherwise you wouldn’t be standing,” Trump said with a smile. “It’s not going to help you much, but will help them a lot,” garnering additional applause.
“As we put more money into the pockets of all Americans, including farmers and ranchers, we are also putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life. It was an assault, indeed,” Trump said. “For years, many of you have endured burdensome fines, inspections, needless paperwork and relentless intrusion from an army of regulators from the EPA, FDA and countless other federal agencies.”
Trump highlighted his Administration’s actions to cancel or delay over 1,500 “planned regulatory actions or assaults” across the government, adding it is more than any president in the history of the United States.
He said he promised to eliminate two regulations for every one new regulation, but in his first 11 months of office has actually eliminated 22 regulations for every one new regulation. The rollback most popular with farmers was the Waters of the U.S. rule. “We ditched the rule,” he said, to the members of the organization which led the charge to “Ditch the Rule” when it came out in 2015.
Although events earlier in the Farm Bureau convention highlighted farmers’ support for trade, Trump mentioned only briefly that his Administration is reviewing all of the trade agreements to ensure they are fair and reciprocal, repeating reciprocal and saying it is so important.
In NAFTA negotiations Trump said, “I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and our farmers and our manufacturers,” but added with Canada and Mexico making all that money it is not the easiest negotiation.
AFBF president Zippy Duvall said although many farmers are nervous on trade and what’s going on behind negotiating doors, his discussions with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and others lead him to believe that “our farmers will be okay in the end.”
Also Monday, Perdue gave Trump over 100 recommendations from the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. The task force heard from farmers that broadband internet access is an issue of vital concern to their communities and businesses. In an effort to expand access to broadband internet in rural America, Trump signed two Presidential Orders to provide broader, faster—and better—internet coverage.
The first of these two orders instructs the Department of Interior to dedicate a portion of its assets for rural broadband installation. The second order will streamline the installation process by requiring agencies to use standardized forms and contracts for installing antennas on federal buildings, thus improving process efficiency.
Trump also said he looks to support an on-time farm bill. Earlier in the day, Perdue said USDA will be “right there providing whatever counsel Congress request or require” and that USDA will be unveiling its own farm bill principles to “use as a roadmap to guide them along the way.”
Trump concluded, “I’m looking 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.”