WASHINGTON, March 21, 2017 – President Donald Trump today signed a proclamation designating March 21 as National Agriculture Day, providing welcome words to many of the farmers and ranchers who voted for him and some of his most specific views on agriculture to date.
It’s the first time a sitting president has signed a presidential proclamation honoring National Agriculture Day since President Bill Clinton.
“America’s farmers and ranchers help feed the world, fuel our Nation’s economy and lead global markets in output and productivity,” Trump says in the proclamation. “The efficiency of American agriculture has provided this country with abundance our ancestors could not have imagined.”
Trump also noted that “American agriculture is the largest positive contributor to our Nation’s net trade balance, generating 10 percent of our exports and millions of American jobs.
In a preview to Trump’s announcement, Ray Starling, the White House Special Assistant for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance (pictured above), said he hoped that issuing such an important proclamation during his first 100 days in office is a sign that “the president will brag on ag.”
Starling, who delivered an upbeat and enthusiastic speech to agricultural leaders at the Agriculture Council of America’s National Agriculture Day breakfast this morning, outlined four key areas where he expects Trump to focus his ag agenda: trade, labor, regulatory reform and infrastructure.
The president is committed to negotiating trade agreements that “secure open and equitable access to foreign markets, that insist upon the use of sound science, that eliminate tariffs or subsidy regimes that unfairly disadvantage American products and hold our trading partners aI ccountable when they invoke unfair or unjustified market practices,” Starling said.
“Given the American farmers’ impressive ability to increase productivity and output at a rate much higher than we are able to consume in our country, our farmers have to have access to foreign markets,” he added. “Agriculture already helps us win in the race to trade more and we will make sure agriculture continues to win.”
Trump is also committed to providing a reliable, affordable agriculture workforce, Starling said. He cited the need to look at stabilizing the current workforce and address temporary guest worker programs so they are more secure, reliable and easier to use.
“We’re getting to a point where push comes to shove when it comes to access to a reliable workforce,” Starling added.
He also cited Trump’s plan to halt what he described as “the regulatory onslaught.”
“For years our farmers and ranchers have been the victims of one regulatory proposal after another. Significant care will be taken by this administration to evaluate the existing regulatory landscape, determine how to make it less onerous, implement changes that lessen the cumulative impact of needless regulations and give our farmers and agribusinesses a stronger voice in the process used to vet new regulatory proposals."
Equally important, Starling said, is the need to “set up a systemic mechanism across the federal government so that ag will continue to have a voice in the regulatory scene even after this president is no longer president. We want to make sure ag has a seat at the table at Interior, EPA, the Department of Labor and other agencies in a real way to evaluate what agencies are doing.”
Starling says the president is also committed to improving infrastructure in rural America.
“The president realizes that we have been astonishingly successful in producing food, fiber and forestry products – partly because of agriculture’s infrastructure – including our land grant university system, our extension system and our research collaboratives which are unmatched around the world,” Starling said.
“The president recognizes the risks facing rural America and realizes we must face many of them head on.”
In addition to outlining the president’s agenda, Starling noted several things this president is not going to do. He said Trump:
- “Will never propose an expansive reading of the Clean Water Act that gives the federal government an opportunity and jurisdiction to regulate every mud hole on your private property.” He also noted that Trump has “already taken action to minimize the implications of the last president’s WOTUS (waters of the United States) proposal.
- “Will not use the Endangered Species Act to regulate in a way that doesn’t respect the peaceful existence of production agriculture and our treasured wildlife.
- “Will not release sensitive and private data on farmers just because ecologically-driven fanatics and lawyers want it.
- “Will not allow the EPA to give taxpayer dollars to activist groups who turn around and put up billboards that attack our farmers and ranchers.
- "Will never lose sight of the fact that the number-one farm preservation tool is farm profitability – not buzzwords, not catch-phrases or federal grant programs."
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