Sunday evening President Donald Trump delivered a key-note speech during the American Farm Bureau National Convention. [Video and Transcript Below]
[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank you very much. And thank you to our great Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Thank you, Sonny, very much. You’ve done a fantastic job. (Applause.) Sit down, everybody. Let’s stay for a while. Come on.
We did it. We did it. Remember? (Applause.)
They were all saying, “You’ll never get NAFTA changed.” We were stuck with one of the worst trade deals in history. “We’ll never do it. We’ll never get a deal done with China.” I’ve told everybody, “You got to buy a lot of land, and you’ve got to get much bigger tractors right now.” Because we did a great deal with China — great for our country. And hopefully, it’s great for China, too, because we’re going to sell them the greatest product you’ve ever seen, right? The greatest product you’ve ever seen. (Applause.)
But I am thrilled to be back in this incredible state of Texas. We’ve had a tremendous victory. And from what I understand, those polls are all saying we’re way higher than we were in ’16. Is that correct? That’s right, Dan. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor. My Dan. Great. Thank you very much. We’re doing good.
But this is where the people are known for being tough, and strong, and hardworking, loyal, fiercely patriotic — just like America’s incredible farmers.
My administration is fighting for the American farmer, and has been fighting for the farmer and the rancher every single day. And together, we’ve achieved something truly stunning. And, really, it was a historic number of victories — not one; we had numerous victories. A lot of them just — it sort of all came together. What good timing. I said, “Let’s see if we can get it done for this event.” Most Presidents don’t come. And when they do, they come once. This is my third time in a row, and I promise I’ll be here next year, too. (Applause.) We’ll be here next year.
In fact, a poll just came out — Wall Street Journal. It just came out. Look at this: “Farmer Approval of Trump Hits Record, Poll Shows… 83 percent of the farmers and ranchers approve of the President’s job performance.” 83 percent! (Applause.)
But, I want to know, really: Who are the 17 percent? Who are they? (Laughter.) Who the hell are the 17 percent? (Laughter.) Anybody in here from the 17 percent? Don’t raise your hand; it may be dangerous. (Laughter.) That’s pretty good, right?
But, on Wednesday, after two years of hard-fought negotiations, where the farmers and ranchers stood with me all the way — they knew we had to do it. It wasn’t done by other administrations. They didn’t want to do it because it was nasty. We signed a groundbreaking trade agreement with China. (Applause.)
Under this landmark agreement, China will now be purchasing $40- to $50 billion of American agricultural products every single year, tripling our agricultural exports to China.
You know, we had a deal: It was done at $20 [billion] — $20 billion — the most they ever purchased, according to Sonny Perdue. I said, “Sonny, we have to help the farmer because they were targeted.” And I’m not saying I blame China. You know, they want to win; we want to win. We all want to win, right? We like to win.
How is your team doing today, by the way? I don’t know. How is it going? (Applause.) Are they doing okay? We’ll soon find out. I said, “This is wonderful thing. I come to…” Look at this place; it’s packed. It’s sold out. Look at the crowd. It’s sold out. (Applause.) And you have a — you have a game with the team, known as “Texas.” But we’ll see how it does. Let’s — this is right now. This is the thing we have to focus on.
But, on Thursday of this week, we made a really historic — once again, the Senate passed — because this is in addition to China — the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace the catastrophe, the disaster known as “NAFTA.” I’ve been complaining about it for many years. Our jobs left. Our factories closed. Our companies left, opened up. They made product. They sold it into the United States — no tax, no nothing.
We have just the opposite right now. It’s very painful if they want to do that. It’s very hard for them to do that, economically. The “USMCA,” as we call it, will massively boost exports for farmers, ranchers, growers, and agricultural producers from North to South, and from sea to shining sea. It also has tremendous impacts on manufacturers and all of the other things — good for everybody. But we won’t bother; we only care about the farmers today, and the ranchers. Right? So we don’t have to talk about the manufacturers. (Applause.)
But it’s fantastic for manufacturing and lots of other things. And our manufacturing numbers are fantastic. You see that. Remember? Manufacturing. Phil, you remember? “There’s no more manufacturing.” And then we have almost 600,000 jobs. They said, the last administration, “You’d need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing.” So I guess we found the magic wand. (Applause.) We found the magic wand.
Joining us today are a few of your strongest allies in Washington who helped make these achievements possible. Senators Pat Roberts and Cindy Hyde-Smith — where are they? (Applause.) Please. Please. Pat and Cindy Hyde. I’ll tell you: These are two people that love the farmer.
And Pat — I mean, every time I get a call — Pat. That meant like, “Come on. Come on, President. Let’s go, President.” But what a great career you’ve had. What an unbelievable number of election victories you’ve had. We’d love to keep you for a long time, but I don’t think we can talk about him out of it at this point. But, Pat, thank you very much. And Cindy Hyde-Smith, you have a done a fantastic job representing everybody, but representing the farmers and ranchers. Thank you very much. And, Pat, thank you very much. Great job. (Applause.)
And Representatives Randy Weber, Roger Williams, and John Carter. Please stand up. Warriors — they’re warriors. (Applause.)
And also, three friends of mine — Texas leaders at the highest level — Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Please stand up. Please stand up. (Applause.) That’s great. Hi, Sid.
I remember 2016 — the election. And the fake news — these people back here — (laughter) — they were going — they were saying, “Trump — going to have a hard time winning Texas.” And we came. We made speeches, Sid. Remember? We’d have 25-, 30,000 people standing on line. Can’t get in. And I said, “Why am I going to have a hard time with Texas?”
And I remember, Sid Miller — I didn’t know Sid. But he was big, and he had the big, beautiful cowboy hat on. I love that hat. I wish we could wear them in Washington or New York because I would be the biggest buyer of that hat. (Laughter.) I just don’t know if it would play there, but I’ll wear them in Texas, I’ll tell you.
But Sid was sitting there with that hat on, and he looked great. And he said, “I don’t know about you, and I don’t know where you’re getting this information about a close race in Texas, but there’s going to be nothing close about this race in Texas. Trump is going to win this race by so much, you’re not going to believe it.” That’s exactly what happened.
So, thank you very much. I didn’t know Sid. He just said, “Trump is going to win by a lot.” And ever since then, I’ve liked Sid a lot, and you turned out to be right. Right, Sid? Thank you very much. Great job. (Applause.) Great job.
I also want to take a moment to send our love and support to the President of the American Farm Bureau — a great guy — Zippy Duvall. Sadly, Zippy’s wonderful wife — a tremendous woman, married for 40 years — Bonnie — passed away last night. And we want Zippy and his entire family to know we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. And he was a very — it was a very special relationship, and I just want to wish the family well. And, Zippy, we’re with you 100 percent — 100 percent. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
So, I’m truly honored to be addressing the Farm Bureau’s annual convention for my third straight year. My administration understands that if we want to stand up for America, we must stand up for American farmers. So important. Incredible people. (Applause.) If we want America to thrive and grow, then we must ensure that America’s farms flourish and prosper. And that’s what we’re doing. You feed our people, you fuel our nation, you sustain our land, you uphold our values, and you preserve our cherished American way of life. We want our products made, grown, and raised right here in the USA — and that’s what’s happening. (Applause.)
I hope you all remember that, before I took office, American agriculture was being crushed by an onslaught of massive taxes; crippling regulations; burdensome federal mandates — you know about that. I released it. I released it all. And horrendous trade deals. And they were horrendous indeed. I actually used to say, “Who the hell would have negotiated a deal like this?”
When I ran for President, I vowed to use every power at my disposal to protect American farmers and restore the full strength of American agriculture. I promised that I would always have your back. And unlike the politicians who came before me — they talked a lot; they did nothing for you — I kept my promise. (Applause.)
Under the previous administration, net farm income plummeted by more than 20 percent. Under my administration — and, remember, these trade deals haven’t even really kicked in yet. I told China, a couple of months ago, “Do me a favor. We’re going to make a deal. Start buying. Start buying.” And they did. Not as much as I wanted, but they did. They wanted to wait until they got the signed agreement. Now we have the signed agreement. But they started buying. But it’s also Japan. It’s also other countries. But net farm income has gone up by more than $30 billion dollars –- an increase of nearly 50 percent in just three years. Remember that. (Applause.) And the big stuff is yet to come. The big numbers, in my opinion, are yet to come.
We are fixing problems and cleaning up messes that others have neglected for decades. They’ve treated you very unfairly. They’ve treated you very foolishly. Frankly, they’ve treated you stupidly — stupidly — to put our great farmers in this position. We are winning for our farmers, and we winning like never before. (Applause.)
And don’t forget: When I ran, I said, “We’re going to do this stuff. We’re going to do it.” But it was just words. “We’re going to do it.” Everybody said, “We’re going to do things.” But I did it. We got it done. And this is the time; I couldn’t say it last year. Last year, I said, “Hey…” You know, you were being targeted by China, in all fairness. You were being targeted. They stopped buying, purposely. Then I put the big tariffs on. Then I gave you a lot of the money, out of the tariffs. We had a lot of money left over, but we gave you — Sonny told you — $16 billion, and $12 billion the year before. And that made you do very well.
But, you know, the farmers came to me. They said, “We don’t want anything. We just want a level playing field.” And you have now even more than a level playing field. (Applause.)
The deal with China will tear down market barriers and pry open vast new markets for American beef, pork, poultry, seafood, soybeans, rice, dairy, infant formula, animal feed, biotechnology, and much, much more.
This is an incredible success for our entire country, and it was your fortitude, your perseverance, and your devotion that made it all possible. And I have to tell you, another benefit, and a very big benefit, is we now perhaps have the best relationship that we’ve had with China in many, many years. And China respects us now. They didn’t respect us. They couldn’t believe they were getting away with what they were getting away with. (Applause.)
Having a good relationship with China is good — and Russia, is good; and many other countries, is a good thing. But we don’t people taking advantage of us.
For years, China stole trade secrets from American agri-businesses, and plundered our intellectual property, illicitly subsidized grain procedures, and installed one barrier after another to block out our farmers and to block out our ranchers.
When my administration confronted these abusive and destructive trade practices, China targeted American agriculture for retaliation. They even took ads, saying what a bad person I was. But the farmers — only some of them believe that. And those people have come all the way back, too.
To defend our farmers, I authorized $28 billion dollars. And we’re getting that money, Sonny, to the small farmers also. There were some statements — big farmers — no, we get them to the small farmers. We get them to everybody — big farmers, small farmers. And we have a formula that I think has been working out, Sonny, very well. If it’s not, call me directly, and I’ll call Sonny and give him hell, okay? (Laughter.)
But we’re getting it to the small farmers, the big farmers, and everybody. And that’s a lot of money. And I am delighted to report that the final installment of all of those billions of dollars of that money will be coming very quickly, Sonny, I guess. Is that a correct statement? Yes? Thanks. You never backed down — (applause). Unless you don’t want it, because you’re making so much money now. If anybody would like to give it up, please raise your hand. (Laughter.)
You stayed in the fight. You protected our economy and our security. And, together, we all together — we prevailed. You were always with me. You never even thought of giving up. And we got it done. And there were times when, you know, the — the media was trying to cause trouble. They’d come into Iowa. “Isn’t it terrible with the practices and the trade.” And the farmers would say, “No, the President is doing the right thing. It’s tough, but the President is doing the right thing.”
But then we started doing the big tariffs — taking in literally tens of billions of dollars. And we started giving money back. I went to Sonny Perdue. I said, “Sonny, what did China — what was the number that China did last year?” He said, “Sir, they bought $16 billion.” I said, “Oh, that’s good. What did they do the year before?” “Sir, they bought $12 billion worth of product.” I said, “Good.”
So it’s $12 billion. We gave you the $12 billion. Then, $16 billion. We gave you the $16 billion so you weren’t hurt. And now we have a position that I don’t think the farmers and ranchers have been in this position maybe ever. I don’t think so. And I think it’s going to work out good. And I think China is going to go all out to prove that the agreement that was signed is a good agreement.
And we have very, very strong stipulations in there. But that it’s a — an agreement that is a fair agreement and good for the farmer. I think they’re looking to prove that it’s going to be great for the farmer. But even bigger and better than we ever thought possible — that’s what this agreement is. It’s much bigger and much better than I ever thought we’d get.
And, frankly, there were times when I didn’t think we were going to get anything because I cancelled every meeting — how many times have you seen me cancel with the Iran deal? You didn’t see Kerry cancel ever. He just took one bad point after another bad point, and then he signed a bad agreement, and then we terminated that deal. But that’s a little different than the farmer stuff.
But you didn’t any walking. We walked from this deal a lot. And sometimes, you have to walk from a deal in order to make the right deal. And we walked from this one a lot, didn’t we? Phil was talking to me, and our great past governor. It’s sad to say that, but you have a great new governor. Right, Phil?
But we were talking about it, and he says, “You got to do what you got to do. If you can’t make the right deal, you got to walk.” It’s true. So we walked a lot. And we always got called back. “Let’s do it the way you want.”
On behalf of every American worker and family, thank you for standing strong for America. Thank you very much to the farmers and ranchers for standing with me; for saying, “The President is right. Yes, it’s tough right now, but the President is doing the right thing.” Thank you. (Applause.)
More than anything else, it proved to me that farmers love America. And I just want to tell you that America loves our farmers. Thank you. (Applause.)
Under the deal, China has agreed to spend many billions of dollars on American services, energy, and manufactured goods. China has made substantial commitments regarding the protection of American ideas, trade secrets, patents, and trademarks. China has also pledged firm action to confront pirated and counterfeit goods. Most important of all, the deal is enforceable — very, very powerfully enforceable. In fact, it was probably the thing that we negotiated the most. And rest assured, we will vigorously enforce its terms. Hopefully, we won’t have to. Hopefully, it’ll go just as we anticipate.
In a matter of days, we will achieve another tremendous victory for the American agricultural businesses, when I sign the USMCA into law. So, we just passed it in the Senate, and it was a wonderful vote, and I sign it very soon. It’s being prepared now — beautifully prepared. I’m going to Europe to talk to world leaders and to talk to business people about coming. Everybody wants to come back to America. Everybody wants to come back to the United States. We’re now where the action is. They’re all coming back.
And when I come back, we’ll have a ceremony, probably in the White House. We also may go to some of the farming communities and we’re going to sign the deal.
Under the USMCA, Canada will finally provide greater access for American dairy. You know, Canada was charging us 287 percent tariffs. Nobody knew that. Nobody knew that. I knew it. So, you basically couldn’t even deal with Canada.
But those days are gone. Our dairy exports are set to increase by more than $300 million dollars per year. Poultry exports to Canada could jump by nearly 50 percent. (Applause.) Exports of eggs to both Canada and Mexico could skyrocket by as much as 500 percent, and maybe even 1,000 percent. Very importantly, Canada will finally give fair treatment to American-grown wheat, which is a big deal to you people. What the hell do I know about it? (Applause.) I don’t know anything about it; I just know you had a problem with it.
I said to a couple of the farmers — I’d have a lot of farmers at the White House. They were incredible. I said, “What’s the big thing?” “Wheat, sir.” “Tell me about it.” And they told me about it. I’m a very quick study; I figured it out quickly. I said, “I know nothing about it, but that sounds right to me.” So we got it in the contract. (Laughter.)
The two momentous trade deals we completed last week are just the beginning of a really incredible story. Because nobody thought we’d ever get here. They’d say the deal with China would be impossible to make, and getting rid of NAFTA would be totally impossible. One of the reasons it was totally possible: It was such a bad deal for us — good for the other countries; not good for us.
We’re achieving what no administration has ever achieved before. And what do I get out it? Tell me. I get impeached! That’s what I get out of it. (Laughter.) By these radical left lunatics, I get impeached. But that’s okay, the farmers are sticking with Trump. They’re sticking with Trump. (Applause.) These people. These people. It could have been so much easier.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: In just — (laughs) — thank you very much. (Laughter.) In just the past few months, we persuaded Japan to slash tariffs on $7 billion of U.S. agricultural products. Over 90 percent of our agricultural exports to Japan will now receive preferential treatment. Nobody thought that was possible. And, in many cases, we will be completely duty free — and you’ve never heard that before. (Applause.) That’s a $40 billion deal, by the way. That’s in addition to China, and Canada, and Mexico, and South Korea.
We secured guaranteed access for American beef to the EU — European Union — a deal that will nearly triple our beef exports to Europe in the coming years. And, as you know, Europe has had tremendous barriers to us doing business with them. All those barriers are coming down. They have to come down. If they don’t come down, we’re going to have to do things that are very bad for them. (Laughter.)
No, we’ve been taken advantage of by everybody. There’s nobody that — we — we’ve been taken advantage of by everybody. Europe. Who would think Europe? Europe was, in many ways, more difficult — and is more difficult — than China. Nobody would believe that.
I was saying to Sonny and some of the people before, “Dealing with Europe, in many ways, has been worse and tougher than dealing with China.” Not fair.
We have secured record market access for U.S. rice in South Korea; it was a big one. We won tariff exemptions in Ecuador for wheat and soybeans. They were tariffing us out of business. We opened up Vietnam for American orange growers. We got Brazil to raise its quotas for purchases of our wheat and ethanol. We opened up Guatemala and Tunisia to American eggs. And in November, we ended China’s years-long ban on American poultry. You know that very well — years-long.
And part of it was: I asked. I said, “You got to do this.” They said, “But nobody has ever asked before.” I said, “But I’m asking. Thank you very much.” Nobody ever asked. Half of it, nobody asked. (Applause.)
If we harvest or herd it in the United States, I want to help you sell it all around the world. To make American agriculture even more competitive, we passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history, by far. And to help you keep your family farm, and keep it in the family, we virtually eliminated the deeply unfair estate tax, or “death tax.” We got rid of it for small farms, ranchers, and small businesses. (Applause.)
So, if you love your children, you can now leave your farms and your ranches and your small businesses to your children, and you don’t have to pay tax. (Applause.) If you love your children, you don’t have to pay the estate tax or the death tax. If you do not love your children, you don’t really care about that provision. (Laughter.)
Is there anybody here that does not love their children and does not want to leave their beautiful farm to their children? Anybody here? Come on, you have guts. I think farmers have a lot of guts. Come on. You mean there’s not one person that dislikes your children because they’re brats — because they’re spoiled rotten brats? (Laughter.) Okay, well, that’s a pretty good group of people. Well, that’s the farmers for you, right? That’s the farmers. (Applause.)
But think of that. You know, people were wanting to pass along their farm. And they’d pass away, and their children would take it. And then the tax people would come along, and the tax would be monumental. And the income wouldn’t be so good, but the value of the farm was a lot. And they’d go out and they’d mortgage the farm to the hilt. And within a short period of time, the banks are foreclosing on the farm, and taking the farm, and putting the farm up for sale.
You don’t have to worry about that anymore. There’s no more estate tax. There’s no more death tax on those farms. So, good. That’s good. That’s really good. (Applause.) That’s very important. That was a hard thing to get. That was hard to get by the wonderful Democrats that we have to deal with every day.
Thanks to our pro-American tax cuts, trade reforms, and regulatory reductions, America now has the hottest economy anywhere on Earth, and there’s no place even close. Everybody is coming back.
Since my election, the United States has gained more than 7 million jobs — un-thought of. If I would have said that on the campaign trail, the fake news would have gone crazy. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate is now 3.5 percent — the lowest in over 51 years, half a century. (Applause.) The African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment rates have reached the all-time historic lows — lowest in the history of our country. More Americans are working today than ever before — almost 160 million. Never even been close to that.
Under the so-called “Trump Economy,” the lowest-paid earners are reaping the biggest, fastest, and largest percentage gains. This is a blue-collar boom. Everybody is booming, frankly, but it’s a blue-collar boom. Net worth for the bottom 50 percent of wage earners has grown 15 times more under my administration. Think of that: 15 times. You know, 15 times more than under the three prior administrations.
Wages for the bottom 10 percent are rising faster than for the top 10 percent. And that’s okay for the rich people. Let somebody else enjoy life a little bit, right? Does any rich person — of which we probably have a lot in this room — any rich person have a problem with that? Please stand up. (Laughter.) I don’t think we’re going to see that person standing.
Real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded. Think of that: highest ever recorded. You know, in the Bush administration, for eight years: $450. In the Obama administration, for eight years: $975. In the Trump administration, for less than three years: almost $10,000, when you include the tax cuts, the energy savings, and the regulation cuts. Nobody can believe it. (Applause.) Nobody can believe it. Think of that — isn’t that amazing? — $450, $975. And that’s been in eight years, eight years. And then you have less than three years — because it was done as of a few months ago — and you have almost $10,000.
To power our future, America is boldly embracing energy independence. The United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, which means lower prices for farmers and consumers. And you see how the prices are: They’re stable to low. And it means America is no longer reliant on foreign nations. Isn’t that nice? (Applause.)
And we are also proudly promoting American ethanol. Chuck Grassley calls me. Joni Ernst calls me. Deb Fischer calls me. They all call — everybody. Pat calls me. Ethanol. They love ethanol. And I recently approved E-15 to be used all year round, instead of eight months. And that’s a big thing for the American farmer. We’re providing unprecedented support to ethanol — support like they’ve never had before.
Yet, the radical left in Washington wants to demolish these gains. And they, frankly, want to destroy your way of life. They are not for the farmer. They are not for our military. They are not for secure borders. They want open borders. They want sanctuary cities. Essentially, what they’re saying is, “We want crime.” And they don’t want crime, but that’s what you get when you have open borders.
And, by the way, just so you know, the wall is being built at a very rapid pace. We’re over 100 miles now. (Applause.) We think we’ll be over 400 miles by the end of next year. And shortly thereafter, we’ll have a completed wall.
And you probably also — this was a big news story. They saw people — they had to capture them. They couldn’t get over the wall. They had to send trucks and ladders and firepeople because they got stuck on the top of the wall. They couldn’t get down. Loaded up with drugs on their back.
So it’s very successful. It’s going to be very, very successful. It’s having a big impact already because we’re setting records now — what we’re doing, in terms of people coming into our country illegally.
We want them to come into our country, by the way. We want them to come in, though, through merit. We want them to come in legally. And we want them to come so they can help the farmer, just so you understand. Because I want them to be able to come in to help our farmers. (Applause.) And we’re going to give you plenty of help. Because without that, it’s very difficult.
Taking their cues from socialists like Bernie Sanders, or a fake socialist like Pocahontas — (laughter). She’s actually worse than a socialist, but she doesn’t want to admit it. But the far left, they want to massively raise your taxes, crush your — your businesses with regulations, take away your healthcare, and send bureaucrats to interfere with your property and second guess every decision that you make. They want to take it away, and they want to load you up with regulations, so you can’t live, you can’t breathe.
Left-wing politicians want to shut down oil and gas production in the United States. And if they succeed, they will cost our farmers and ranchers billions of dollars per year in royalty payments alone. But more importantly, you’re not going to be able to afford the energy that you need to run your farms. We will never let it happen. (Applause.)
There are no better stewards of our precious natural resources than the American farmers who depend on the land and the environment for their very livelihood. You love your land. You’re going to take care of your land. You don’t need some bureaucrat in Washington telling everybody what the hell to do with your land. You love your land. (Applause.)
When it comes to the environment, I will always trust a farmer over a Washington bureaucrat or a left-wing extremist. (Applause.)
To help producers expand, I signed a Farm Bill that doubles the amount you can borrow to improve your farm. You like that — that Farm Bill. And, Pat — stand up again, Pat. Boy, he was brutal in that Farm Bill. I’d get a call every two minutes from Pat. (Applause.) I’d say, “Tell him I’ll call him back next week.” Great job.
We also protected the crop insurance programs that producers rely on in times of disaster. Through fires, floods, and freezing weather, we will always support our great American farmers. You have my word. (Applause.)
We have liberated American agriculture from an avalanche of federal regulations. In the Trump administration, we know that the role of government is not to harass our citizens; it is to serve our citizens, to make life easy, and to make you hire lots of people, and have a great farm, and have tremendous success, and make lots of money, and send your children to school — be safe, be free.
Our law enforcement — we are going to protect our law enforcement just like they protect us. (Applause.)
When I took office, I issued an order requiring that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Instead of two for one, we have now cut more than eight for one. Nobody thought that was possible. (Applause.) As a result, the average American household will save $3,100 dollars a year, just on regulation cuts and sensible regulation.
Earlier this month, I took decisive action to slash regulatory and approval times for critical infrastructure used to transport goods and produce. Currently, environmental reviews can take 10 years or more. I’ve been through it myself. You want to build a building, and you fear it’s going to take 12 years to get permits. I say, “Twelve years?” I’ve been through it, so I understand what you go through.
But our proposals will limit the process to two years — and, in many cases, less than one year. (Applause.) And you may get rejected for environmental or safety reasons, but it’s going to go very quickly. We will soon build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.
I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all: the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule. (Applause.) Thank you. It’s gone. That was a rule that basically took your property away from you.
I’ll never forget: At the White House signing, I had probably 30, 35 people behind me — farmers and homebuilders and others — people that haven’t cried in many years. People that weren’t — some of them were so tough, they never cried. They didn’t cry when they were babies. And they were crying. (Laughter.) No, we gave them their life back.
We did it in Minnesota, with the iron ore. We opened it up. They took it away — the Obama administration. Minnesota now has the greatest fields in the world — iron ore. But we did it in a lot of ways.
But, in this case, it had such a beautiful name, right? It was so beautiful. I said, “Oh, this is disaster, but I’m going to do it because I knew it was the right thing to do.” And everybody loved it. And now you’re back in business. You’re doing what you have to do. They really took away your property, and they took away your property rights. (Applause.)
So, this rule gave bureaucrats virtually unlimited authority to regulate stock tanks, drainage ditches, and isolated ponds as navigable waterways and navigable water. You believe that? Sometimes, you’d have a puddle — a little puddle. And they’d consider that a lake. As long as I’m President, government will never micromanage America’s farmers. You’re going to micromanage your own farm, and that’s the way it should be. (Applause.)
And, today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking yet another step to protect the water rights of American farmers and ranchers. Under the previous administration, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new Water Supply rule that would give the federal government vast and unlimited power to restrict farmers’ access to water. That’s not a good thing. Is anybody happy with being restricted to water if you have a farm? Please stand up if you are happy about that. Because this authority rightfully belongs to the states, not the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
That is why I am directing the Corps of Engineers to immediately withdraw the proposed rule — just submitted recently, meaning last administration — and allow states to manage their water resources based on their own needs and based on what their farmers and ranchers want. (Applause.) Water is the lifeblood of agriculture, and we will always protect your water supply. (Applause.)
Since my inauguration, we have also devoted nearly $1 billion dollars to rural broadband, connecting a quarter of a million rural households, and we’re moving at a rapid pace. The USDA will soon award another $1.1 billion, and the FCC will soon vote on a plan to direct $20 billion to rural broadband. It’s about time. You know, they take care of their cities, but they don’t take care of you. (Applause.) They take care of their cities, but not you.
In everything we do, we are putting the needs of American workers, families, and farmers first. We are putting America first. (Applause.)
The great men and women in this room are the stewards of a inheritance and a noble tradition that’s unrivaled. It’s handed down from one generation to the next, all the way back to the very beginning of our country. You take pride in your work, joy in your calling, and deep satisfaction in your vital contributions to the life and health and success of our republic.
America has always been a farming nation — founded, built, and grown by people just like you, who pour out their heart, soul, and sweat into this land; who wake up at the crack of dawn; who plow the soil, plant the seed, and tend the fields from the dawn to dusk; and do not rest until that job is beautifully, perfectly done. Does that sound familiar? I think so, right? (Applause.) It’s true. That’s the American farmer, rancher.
You embody the spirit of optimism that has always defined this magnificent country. You look at an empty field in the dead of winter, and you envision the spark of life in the peak of spring. That’s what you see. You see differently than other people.
Farmers have always been the keepers of our great American values. You champion the love of family, the dignity of work, and the glory of God. You teach your children to celebrate our nation, defend our freedom, honor our values, and to always respect and cherish our great American flag. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: With your faith, your grit, your tenacity, your talent, and your patriotism, the best days for America and the best days for America’s farmers and ranchers are yet to come.
I want to thank everybody. This has been such an incredible turnout, and I appreciate everybody for being here. We’re taking care of our farmers. We’re taking care of our ranchers. We’re taking care of our manufacturers. We’re taking care of our military and our vets. We’re taking care of our country. It’s “Make America Great Again.” It’s “Keep America Great.” It’s whatever you want to call it. We’re the greatest country anywhere in the world, and we’re taking care of you.
So thank you all very much. This is a great honor, and I’m glad we’ve been successful. We got those deals done. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)