Trump’s Farm Bureau address touts end of ‘regulatory assault’

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

President Trump rallied farmers yesterday around his low-regulation, low-tax agenda, telling attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention that they’re lucky he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“Oh, are you so happy you voted for me!” the president said amid waves of applause for policies he said will free farmers from burdensome rules and improve their bottom lines.

The convention, in Nashville, was streamed live on the Farm Bureau’s website, with more than 2,200 participants signed on.

Trump touted the tax overhaul he recently signed, which will phase out the estate tax that affects some farmers, reduce tax rates for small businesses and allow farms to fully deduct the cost of expensive equipment in the year it’s bought, rather than spreading the depreciation over several years.

But the biggest headline may have been that Trump was there at all. He’s the first president since George H.W. Bush to accept an invitation to the Farm Bureau’s convention, although the organization said it invites the president every year.

“What happened? Where are they?” Trump said.

In his address, Trump said he’s taken on “regulation, death tax, so much,” and he celebrated his administration’s decision to jettison the “Waters of the U.S.” rule that, though never fully implemented, might have affected how farmers handle runoff into small waterways that don’t flow year-round, according to farm groups.

He declared “an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life” to more applause, and cited U.S. EPA and the Food and Drug Administration specifically for over-regulating agriculture.

The president vowed to log more timber and export more renewables. But he said relatively little about some other signature issues for farmers, including boosting ethanol and biofuel mandates and crafting a North American Free Trade Agreement that’s beneficial to U.S. farm exports.

He briefly mentioned the 2018 farm bill — a congressional responsibility, primarily — saying only that he’d see to having it completed on time this year and would support having crop insurance included.

And he singled out Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) for praise.

The administration and Roberts may face competition priorities, however; Roberts has said he’ll protect crop insurance, citing falling farm incomes. The administration has supported scaling back the program to save money, in addition to