President Donald Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in Nashville on Monday, the first commander-in-chief to do so in roughly 25 years. The last president to address the nation’s farmers was George H.W. Bush in 1992.
“In every decision we make, we are honoring America’s proud farming legacy,” President Trump told the crowd. “Our independence was won by farmers – our continent was tamed by farmers. Our Army is fed by farmers. Farmers have always led the way.”
He promoted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first overhaul to the U.S. tax code in more than 31 years, and received a particularly loud applause when he said family farms and small businesses will now be spared the “punishment” of “the deeply unfair estate tax.”
“So, you can keep your farms in the family,” he said, adding the death tax repeal “was a tough one to get approved.”
The President also touted how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now permits the nation’s farmers to write off 100% of new equipment expenses, immediately.
“That is something that I think will be the sleeper of the bill,” he said. “You deduct it all in one year as opposed to over many years.”
President Trump established the Rural Prosperity Task Force on April 25, 2017, to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes needed to help secure a prosperous future for rural America. The Task Force, which includes local leaders and representatives from 22 Federal departments and agencies, is chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“We’re fighting for our farmers,” he said. “And we’re fighting for our country.”
The White House said it has already identified more than 100 actions centering on five key areas that can help achieve a better future for rural America.
- Connectivity for rural America
- assessing the current state and effectiveness of rural connectivity and supporting programs;
- establishing a leadership team among the White House and various departments to ensure better access to electronic connectivity; and
- cutting red tape to encourage investment in high-speed internet.
- Quality of Life Improvement
- targeting rural areas for transportation investment using current programs;
- establishing public-private partnerships to help rural Americans complete an education; and
- expediting infrastructure and technology investment in electric and water utilities for rural communities.
- Support for a Rural Workforce
- expanding apprenticeship programs, particularly in healthcare and trade industries;
- centralizing access to Federal job training programs and encouraging agencies to partner with the Department of Agriculture to host programs at local offices; and
- improving the H-2A program through new policies and regulatory changes.
- Harnessing Technological Innovation
- developing best practices to better leverage big data collection and analysis for agricultural applications;
- expediting FAA regulatory waiver approvals for low-altitude unmanned aircraft system flights in rural environments; and
- modernizing and streamlining a science-based regulatory policy to expedite the commercialization of safe biotechnology products.
- Rural Economic Development
- creating an online Rural Prosperity Portal to help facilitate investment in rural communities;
- removing regulatory barriers to develop and access natural resources in rural areas; and
- increasing access to capital in rural communities by identifying projects for private investment.
Following his speech, the President signed two executive orders to take action on the five key areas, including one authorizing the expansion of broadband access in rural areas. He promised further action to support the nation’s agriculture industry, such as the unpopular Obama-era rule known as the Waters of the United States.
“My administration is in the process of rolling back a rule that hit our farmers and ranches very, very hard,” President Trump said. “The terrible Waters of the United States rule. You know about that. It sounds so nice. It sounds so innocent. It was a disaster.”
On Monday, the President also intends to sign the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Act, designating the first national historic park in Georgia. Later, he’ll be attending the College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta.
Famed rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs will face off against Alabama’s Crimson Tide.