Trump touts trade deals in speech to American Farm Bureau

Posted at 8:51 AM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 11:03:37-05

NEW ORLEANS – President Donald Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation for the second straight year on Monday.

The nation’s largest agriculture organization and farmer/rancher members were celebrating the organizations Centennial Celebration this week in New Orleans.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue introduced the president in front of an audience of 7,000 farmers and ranchers by calling President Trump a friend of agriculture.

President Trump began his speech by praising the nations agricultural producers. “I like the farmers,” said President Trump. “What can I do? I like the farmers.”

On trade, President Trump gave few details with ongoing negotiations with China, adding that it will be beneficial for U.S. agriculture when if it’s complete.

Although Congress has not passed the new U.S. Mexico and Canada trade agreement that will replace NAFTA, President Trump’s new trade agreement benefits agriculture.

“This landmark trade deal will increase exports of wheat from Montana, dairy from Wisconsin, chicken from Georgia, and products from farmers and ranchers all across the country,” said President Trump.

Fifty Montana Farm Bureau members attended this year’s convention and they say they remain cautiously optimistic on trade.

“I don’t think we know enough about it. But, I think they are really excited about the opportunities that are coming for us,” Montana Farm Bureau Board member Patti Davis of Belgrade said.

Gary Heibertshausen, a rancher from Alzada, believes President Trump is on track when it comes to trade.

“We didn’t get here overnight,” said Heibertshausen. “Things have been a roller coaster for the last two years for the ag economy. Now Trump has opened a lot of trade with different countries.”

“We seem to hear about the bad ones maybe more so then the good ones he’s done. We will get there. We are on track. We’ve done more for agriculture in the short time he has been there then other presidents have,” he added.

The president praised the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill he recently signed as well as the administration’s work on regulatory reform including repealing and replacing the Waters of the U.S. Rule.

President Trump also said the defense of the nation is his highest priority in discussing border security, “when it comes to keeping the American people safe,” said President Trump. “I will never, ever back down.”

The President spent the first 30 minutes of his hour-long speech discussing the border barrier, as he calls it, with Mexico.

The farmers and ranchers in New Orleans were quite pleased he attended this year’s event. Farm Bureau members say that it shows his commitment to rural America and to the prosperity of farmers and ranchers.

The Farm Bureau Convention wraps up on Wednesday.

-Lane Nordlund reporting for MTN News