Community Agriculture Alliance: The President’s agricultural policy

Community Ag Alliance

On Wednesday, this newspaper published an article titled “Trump takes victory lap on taxes with rural US”.  The actual article referenced Trump’s speech to the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, even though the headline was about taxes and not farming interests.

So, I thought that perhaps this represented an opportunity to see what our current administration plans to do with respect to farm, ranch and rural interests.

Having become a “breaking news” addict over the last 12 months, I could not recall having heard anything about agriculture, other than the fact that Sonny Perdue was appointed to the post of Secretary of Agriculture. And, rather than rely on a (should I say “biased”) reporter’s view of what was said at Trump’s speech in Nashville, I asked one of our paralegals to find a verbatim of what was actually said.

As I started reading the speech, it struck me that this was nothing more or less than a campaign-style presentation in which Trump touted everything that he could think of that would make a group of farmers cheer.  He told them about their tax breaks.  He told them about the border wall that he is going to build.  He told them about his plans to end “chain migration.”  He thanked all of his political “friends” who were present and told the audience that he’s “moving swiftly to bring hope and prosperity to struggling rural communities.”  And, he promised to sign two executive orders “to provide broader and faster and better Internet coverage.”

Tempting as it is to “fact check” the President’s representations and promises, I read the speech to learn something about the administration’s policy and plans for farmers and ranchers.  By searching through the political rhetoric, I found that an agricultural task force had been created last spring and that it had prepared a report.

This information turned out to be factually accurate.  There was a report prepared, dated October 21, 2017, and an internet search provided access to the full text of the report.

The task force report was prepared in response to an Executive Order (EO13790) signed by the President on April 25 which established the “Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.”  The EO appointed the Secretary of Agriculture to chair this task force. And its charge was “to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes to promote agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America.”

This was not a technical report by any stretch of imagination and the sum and substance seems to be that if we — in rural areas of America — have better internet service, our quality of life will improve. We will better support a rural workforce. We will harness more technological innovation, and we will foster economic development.  With all of these benefits to come our way, we should appreciate that at the end of his speech, Trump signed an executive order for “streamlining and expediting requests to locate broadband facilities in rural America.”

Rich Tremaine sits on the board of advisors for the Community Agriculture Alliance

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