AUSTIN, Texas – President Donald Trump touted his recent accomplishments with international agricultural trade agreements and domestic regulatory changes while speaking Sunday, Jan. 19, to farmers attending the 101st annual convention and trade show of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Austin.
Trump said the trade deal with China, as well as Japan and European countries, and his promise to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, will “restore the full strength” of American agriculture by providing new and expanded markets for American farm products.
That message was good news to Nathan Collins, a farmer from Murdock, Minnesota, who is a member of the Swift County Farm Bureau and a Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation board representative from District Four.
Farming has “been a struggle” in recent years, Collins said after the speech.
“It’s exciting to know we’re going to have markets available to us that, quite frankly, have not been available to us for a very long time,” Collins said.
He said American farmers are the “best in the world” in growing crops and livestock, and the new trade options will enhance farmers’ ability to sell those products to the rest of the world.
“Every farmer has more opportunities now, and more to look forward to,” Collins said.
Dan Lippert, a Kandiyohi County farmer, said it’ll be interesting to see how the trade deals play out.
“China has to do its part. I hope there’s not a lot of litigation to make sure the trade deal promises are lived up to,” he said. “But it really should be a big deal for us. We should get back on track with, hopefully, some prices that make sense.”
His wife, Kim Lippert, who recently retired as an instructor in the ag program at Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota, and received the Minnesota Farm Bureau Post-Secondary Educator of the Year award, said implementation of the trade deals is necessary for the students she taught to succeed in their agriculture careers.
“It needs to be carried out in order to see the fruits of that labor,” she said. “But it certainly will be important for the students I worked with at Ridgewater College with regard to their farming operations and agribusiness in general.”
Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, said trade is “critical to the economic success of the American Farmer.”
Paap said he wished Trump would have spoken more about the renewable fuel standards and waivers for small refineries, which could impact ethanol and biodiesel sales, which are important to Minnesota farmers.
Trump spoke about some of the roll-back to regulations, including repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule which affected the definition of navigable waters that were under federal jurisdiction. That rule had been criticized for identifying some small, temporary ponds as navigable waters.
Trump’s mention of the repeal of that rule drew strong applause from the crowd.
Dan Lippert and Collins both said that was a needed change to a federal regulation.
“It probably had some good goals but it was a regulatory nightmare,” said Dan Lippert. “So I’m really happy that they worked toward a better effort to protect the waters of the U.S.”
Collins said the rule had been a “land grab” and having that rule repealed is a “big, big deal.” Collins also said changes the Trump administration made with estate taxes will make it easier for families, like his, to pass on the farm to the next generation.
This was the third year Trump has spoken at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. “It was an honor to have the president show up,” said Dan Lippert. “I’m impressed with his commitment to listening to agriculture and working with agriculture,” he said.
Trump, who used the speech to recite a long list of ag issues, said he will continue to “stand up for America” and “stand up for farmers.”
Despite being economically stung by the trade wars, Trump has maintained strong support of many farmers.
During the speech he said he currently has support from 83% of farmers. He asked, “who the hell are the 17%” who didn’t support him?
Nobody in the auditorium stood up.