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Tax and Regulatory Reform, Along with Trade, at the Top of the Issues Important to Farmers and Ranchers in Donald Trump's First State of the Union Address

In his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump spoke about improving the nation's trade agreements and touted tax reform and slashing regulations, all while pushing for Congressional support for rebuilding America's infrastructure -- all issues important to farmers and ranchers. He also called on both parties to work on immigration issues to safeguard the nation's borders.

However, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue not in attendance for the speech, as he was the so-called "designated survivor" of the president's cabinet, Trump made no mention of ethanol, agriculture or the North American Free Trade Agreement by name in his nearly 90-minute speech.

After the speech, the Secretary did offer his take on the high points important to agriculture- and he was, as you would expect, highly complimentary.

"President Trump’s unifying address to the nation recounted this administration’s impressive achievements in its first year, which have strengthened the economy for all Americans, including those who do the important work in the agriculture sector.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is already helping workers and will allow agricultural producers to invest more in their operations and their own families. President Trump’s optimistic vision for the nation includes massive investment in infrastructure, which will be a boon to a rural America that sorely needs such improvements. 

"The president's emphasis on fair trade gives me confidence that he will strike deals that benefit all parts of the American economy.  Additionally, his focus on eliminating burdensome regulations is freeing up agricultural producers and removing obstacles to productivity. This is a president who has rural America and agriculture close to his heart, as his words and deeds clearly demonstrate.”    

Several ag leaders quickly offered their take- including Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau:

“From regulatory reform and trade to immigration reform and infrastructure upgrades, President Trump tonight unveiled a policy roadmap that aims to unify and strengthen our nation. Many of the provisions he outlined will continue the theme of renewing rural America. Now, we must work to secure those policy provisions.
 
“The president mentioned tax cuts, and many farm and ranch families will benefit from lower tax rates. Farming is a capital-intensive business and during this prolonged period of economic challenge across farm and ranch country, we applaud the president’s leadership and all the hard work by Congress that went into our new tax law.
 
“It was refreshing to hear his continued pledge to make Washington accountable. The cost of complying with regulations takes a bite directly out of the already slim profit margins our farmers and ranchers are facing today. While much has already been done, there is still more work to do.
 
“Our farmers and ranchers must have new market opportunities and as a businessman President Trump understands that.  As he works to reframe our trade agreements as fair and reciprocal, he goes in with the understanding that we need a trade agenda that secures greater access to ag export markets. That’s important as our farmers prepare to plant their crops for 2018. American agriculture is a bright light in our overall balance of trade and with solid trade policies in place, we will continue down that path.
 
“With the more-than-$1 trillion infrastructure development package he announced tonight, it is our expectation that rural communities will be partners in what he described as a New American Moment. Infrastructure upgrades tied to our rural communities will help pave the way for economic renewal that is so badly needed.
 
“The bold package of immigration reform measures he put on the table tonight should prime the pump for overdue action, and we encourage Congress to take action in a timely manner. While we must do more to secure our borders, the fact remains that our farmers and ranchers need access to agriculture labor they can depend on. Agriculture must be part of President Trump’s proposal for merit-based immigration. We will work with the administration and Congress to ensure we get the job done.”

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