CSPAN has a searchable transcript of the president’s speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation.


President Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation in Nashville Wednesday, touting regulatory and tax reform as his greatest achievements to help American farmers. He also used the occasion to release a report from a rural-prosperity task force he appointed in April.

“We are putting an end to regulatory way of life,” he told the audience at Farm Bureau annual convention, running through January 10 in Nashville. He said his administration had eliminated 22 regulations for each new one it put on the books (repeating a line from Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s introduction).

“In our first 11 months, we have canceled or delayed 1,500 regulatory plans or ‘assaults,’ more than any president in history,” he said.

Exhibit A was his revocation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. regulatory package. The rules expanded protection for wetlands.

“It sounds so innocent – Waters of the U.S.,” Trump said. “But it was a disaster.” He said that he had seen farmers, both women and men (“big, tough guys”), crying in relief after he revoked the rule.

The reference to WOTUS garnered the president his second standing ovation. The first ovation came when he touted changes in the federal estate tax that were part of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul. That ovation took a little prompting, however. “Yes, that’s right. Get up for that one,” he told the audience. The Farm Bureau supported changing the estate tax, saying it has a big impact on family farmers. The tax affected only 4 out of 1,000 farmers, according to a federal study.

Trump heaped the customary amounts of praise for American farmers in his speech. “Farmers are just the most incredible people,” he said. His work on behalf of American farmers started on “day one” of his administration, he said.

The Department of Agriculture was a slow starter in the administration’s transition plan, however. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue was the last Cabinet post Trump nominated. Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, did not take up his post at U.S. Department of Agriculture until April – long after the administration had released its first budget document that recommended large cuts in USDA funding and elimination of the Rural Development undersecretary position.

Besides restructuring USDA Rural Development and proposing large funding cuts, the White House’s central rural initiative has been the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  Perdue chairs the task force, which includes representatives of 22 federal agencies. Perdue, who introduced Trump in Nashville, used the occasion to release the task force’s report. The 44-page document calls for investment in broadband and other infrastructure and asks the White House to provide cross-agency leadership on broadband deployment.

Following his address, President Trump signed two housekeeping executive orders (one and two) designed to make it easier to use federal land and structures to deploy broadband in rural areas.

Trump said speaking at the 99th anniversary of the Farm Bureau Federation was not as satisfying as it might have been. “The 100th would have been much cooler, I have to be honest,” he said. “So I’ll come back next year,” which was greeted with applause.

Trump’s thanks to the Tennessee congressional delegation included a shout out to Senator Bob Corker, with whom he was apparently on better terms than last fall when he called the Tennessee senator a “fool” and “incompetent” in social media.

Trump also thanked Pat Roberts, the Kansas senator who heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, and promised to deliver next year’s farm bill “on time.”

Among other comments that appeared to be improvised during different parts of the speech, the president mentioned his Electoral College victory (“They all said there was no path to 270,” he said, referring to the number of electoral votes necessary to win the presidency, “and we got 304 or 306 or something”. It was 306.)

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