CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, June 21, 2017 – President Donald Trump toured the precision agriculture training program at Kirkwood Community College here on Wednesday before delivering optimistic campaign-style speeches that embraced farmers and ranchers as the “backbone of America.”
“If we can continue to train our workers in these new technologies, then we will usher in a new era of prosperity for American agriculture and the American farming family,” Trump said.
His speeches to a room jam-packed with Iowa agricultural leaders and later, an arena full of energized Trump supporters, built on core White House themes over the last couple of weeks: vocational education, infrastructure and technology.
“Vocational training in new technologies can help make American farmers even more productive so we can compete and win, win, win on the world stage,”
The president has come under fire from some rural Democrats for proposed cuts in his first budget outline and for lacking specifics about how he plans to deliver on some of his ambitious pledges. But if support for Trump is starting to wane across the heartland, it certainly was not evident from the enthusiastic response he received at both stops here.
Trump pledged to “rebuild rural America” and announced that there will be a rural section with a focus on broadband connectivity in his soon-to-be released $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
And he reinforced several steps that he has already taken to deliver on campaign promises.
"We will protect the corn-based ethanol and biofuels that power our country,” Trump said to the delight of renewable energy advocates at one of the events.
Trump prompted plenty of applause when he said he was “working very hard” to eliminate the estate tax, which critics label the “death tax.”
“Why should you be double-taxed?” he asked. “You should have the right to pass your farm on to your children or your grandchildren …without having them go out and borrowing a fortune, losing out to the banks. That’s not fair.”
But Trump was not entirely optimistic.
“I don’t know if that one is going to get pulled off, but it should,” Trump said.
And he took credit for stopping regulations on farms and businesses, including the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS).
“If they (farmers) have a little puddle in the middle of their field, it’s considered a lake and you can’t touch it,” Trump explained to cheering supporters. “We got rid of that one, too.”
On trade, Trump emphasized that “American farmers and ranchers are the absolute best at what they do and they can compete anywhere if they are given a level playing field.” But he said that they don’t enjoy a level playing field because of “terrible” trade agreements.
Speaking about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump said, “We will renegotiate successfully or will terminate, and that’s going to be that.”
The Kirkwood event also served as an official sendoff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad – Trump’s pick to serve as ambassador to China – who will be headed to Beijing at the end of this week.
Branstad, who first became governor in 1983 and has the record as the nation’s longest serving governor, said he “never imagined in my wildest dreams that President Trump would ask me to represent all of America in China.” After joining the president on stage, Branstad lauded Trump for finally getting American beef back into China for the first time in 13 years.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also accompanied President Trump on this trip.
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