President Donald Trump signed the new farm bill into law at a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon, calling it a "really tremendous victory" for American producers.
In an unusual twist, Trump arrived at the ceremony with the theme music from the vintage TV show “Green Acres." Shortly before that he tweeted a video clip of him singing the song at a 2005 event.
“Through fires, floods and freezing weather, we will always stand with American farmers,” Trump said as he praised the bill that passed the House and Senate by landslide margins after House Republicans agreed to remove provisions that Trump wanted to food stamp work requirements.
As he signed the bill, Trump was flanked by leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees and major farm organizations as well as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Vice President Mike Pence.
The audience included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. who made passing the bill a personal priority after including provisions to legalize the production of industrial hemp.
Trump noted that it was Perdue’s birthday. “This is the best birthday gift you could have,” the president said. Perdue, for his part, said he was wearing his lucky tractor tie and called the bill signing “great day for agriculture.”
Trump also made note of a rule released by USDA earlier Thursday to make it harder for states to get waivers from work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Able-bodied adults without dependents are required to work or be in job training at least 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits, unless they live in a state or area that has a waiver from USDA.
Trump said the SNAP rule “will help Americans transfer from welfare to gainful employment. ... That was a difficult thing to do. The farmers wanted it done. We all wanted it done.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, successfully resisted pressure from the White House to write the tougher waiver rules into the farm bill, but Trump nevertheless singled her out for praise. “She’s tough, and she’s smart,” he said.
Trump veered off the subject of the farm bill to direct a message to Capitol Hill about his demands to include funding for a border wall in a stopgap spending bill.
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