PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SPEECH TO FARMERS
On Monday, President Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation in Nashville, Tennessee, and promised to end what he termed a "regulatory assault" on the agricultural industry. During the 36-minute address, which received an enthusiastic response in the room, Trump also touted the recent Republican tax overhaul, which he vowed would mean more money "for our farmers and our middle class," and his rollback of former President Obama's "Waters of the United States" rule. (This placed additional regulatory hurdles on how farms could make use of federally protected small waterways.)
Though Trump has kept a number of campaign pledges to farmers - such as easing environmental regulations on the dairy, livestock and grain industries - his focus on tighter immigration controls could mean fewer available farmworkers, and his 2017 budget proposal outlines steep cuts in federal insurance subsidies to farms. The President did little to address these concerns during the speech, though he did recognize the importance of protecting farms against the risk of bad harvests. (He also touted, to applause, the elimination of the estate tax, which he deemed a "death tax.") Trump did not discuss the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the "Farm Bill," which allocates federal dollars for food and agricultural programs. It's set to expire in 2018.
As well, many in the industry remain concerned about Trump's opposition to international trade pacts. Trump pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have meant an additional $4.4 billion per year for the agricultural industry. Addressing concerns that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may be similarly threatened, the President promised his audience that negotiations are ongoing and his team is “working very hard to get a better deal.”
Trump also used the occasion to tout his plan to expand rural access to high-speed internet, vowing "those towers are going to go up and you’re going to have great, great broadband." (Though the order clears regulatory hurdles and asks the executive branch to “use all viable tools” to encourage the expansion of rural broadband service, it does not appear to allocate any funds to make this happen more quickly.) In one widely-shared exchange, the President joked with the crowd “Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."