NASHVILLE, TENN. — President Donald Trump, addressing the 99th annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Nashville on Jan. 8, touted benefits to farmers and ranchers in the recently passed tax law and his administration’s rolling back of regulatory burdens on production agriculture. The president broke no new ground on trade policy, including the ongoing negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Farm Bureau has been a strong advocate for extending NAFTA and preserving the gains achieved under the 23-year-old trade accord between Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Mr. Trump opened his address pointing out he was the first president to address a convention of the American Farm Bureau in more than 25 years. The appearance of a sitting president of the United States before the Farm Bureau or any other farm organization has been, in fact, a rare occurrence. President George W. Bush addressing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in March 2007 may have been the most recent such appearance.
Mr. Trump pointed to the tax law’s phasing out of the estate tax, which has been a long-standing goal of farm organizations. He also said the new law allows businesses, including farmers, “to deduct 100% of the cost of new equipment in the year you make the investment.”
On regulatory policy, Mr. Trump said, “For years, many of you have endured burdensome fines, inspections, paperwork and relentless intrusion from an army of regulators at the E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency) and F.D.A. (the Food and Drug Administration) and countless other agencies …That’s why I’m truly proud to report that within our first 11 months, my administration has cancelled or delayed over 1,500 regulatory actions or assaults — more than any president in the history of the United States. We have cut 22 regulations for every new regulation.”
The president pointed specifically to the administration’s rolling back the “terrible” Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which also was a goal of most production agriculture organizations.
“To level the playing field for our great American exporters — our farmers and ranchers, as well as our manufacturers — we are reviewing all of our trade agreements to make sure they are fair and reciprocal — reciprocal, so important,” Mr. Trump added. “On NAFTA, I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers. It’s under negotiation as we speak. But think of it: When Mexico is making all of that money, when Canada is making all of that money, it’s not the easiest negotiation. But we’re going to make it fair for you people again.”Mr. Trump said he looked forward to working with Congress to pass a farm bill on time. He said he’ll support a bill that includes crop insurance.