Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its monthly agricultural trade data. The data contained some interesting information with respect to U.S. agricultural exports. The U.S. ran a small, but very rare monthly agricultural trade deficit in May; and, U.S. corn exports to Mexico from January through May of this year were down approximately seven percent from the same time last year. Today's update also includes recent perspectives on NAFTA renegotiation and agricultural issues.
President Donald Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 99th Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday. The President touched on a variety of issues, including tax reform, regulations, rural broadband, the Farm Bill, crop insurance, and trade. This post highlights some of the key points that the President made in his remarks to the AFBF Members.
Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported on Monday that, “President Donald Trump told a group of farmers on Monday that recent tax cuts and deregulation will revitalize the U.S. rural economy.
“Trump’s speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference in Nashville was his first policy address since Congress passed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul. He said agricultural producers, businesses and workers will all benefit from the legislation, and that easing regulations will get better biotechnology products into farmers’ hands.”
Mr. Bjerga added that, “Trump also on Monday issued an executive order expanding rural broadband access to towers on federal lands and streamlining regulation to bring more digital technology to sparsely populated areas.”
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Monday that, “To roaring and often standing applause, President Donald Trump told members of the American Farm Bureau Federation on Monday that he has their backs on regulations, has improved their businesses through tax reform, and that his administration will make trade fairer while also supporting the next farm bill.”
The DTN update noted that, “Highlighting another issue that was significant for farmers during the campaign, the president hit on the EPA Clean Water Act rule under the Obama administration.
‘The terrible Waters of the United States rule, you know about that. It sounded so nice, so innocent, and it was so bad.’ The president added about WOTUS, ‘We ditched the rule.’ That led to another standing ovation.
In every decision we make, we are honoring America’s PROUD FARMING LEGACY. Years of crushing taxes, crippling regs, & corrupt politics left our communities hurting, our economy stagnant, & millions of hardworking Americans COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN. But they are not forgotten ANYMORE! pic.twitter.com/MdYS7xnukQ— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2018
Meanwhile, Reuters writer Jeff Mason reported on Monday that, “U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told farmers gathered in Tennessee that he supports crop insurance, signaling a possible shift from his proposals last year to shrink a program that many farmers rely on for funding their operations.
“Speaking at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, Trump said Congress would include the subsidies for crop insurance premiums in the upcoming ‘farm bill’ that directs billions of dollars each year to agriculture, nutrition, food and land-conservation programs.
“‘I‘m looking forward to working with Congress to pass the farm bill on time so that it delivers for all of you and I support a bill that includes crop insurance,’ Trump said after noting Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts was in attendance. ‘We’re working hard on the farm bill and I think it’s going to go well.’
Also on Monday, Wall Street Journal writer William Mauldin reported that, “President Donald Trump told a gathering of farmers Monday that he is seeking a better trade deal with Canada and Mexico that will benefit both the agricultural industry and manufacturing, but he didn’t reiterate previous warnings on withdrawing from the North American Trade Agreement.
“‘On Nafta, I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers,’ Mr. Trump said at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Nashville, Tenn. ‘When Mexico is making all of that money, when Canada is making all of that money, it’s not the easiest negotiation.’
“Mr. Trump has said he would pull the U.S. out of Nafta if Canada and Mexico don’t agree to a major rewrite of the 24-year-old deal. U.S. officials have proposed new language designed to reduce the overall U.S. trade deficit with its partners, and negotiators from all three countries will gather next round of Nafta talks begins later this month in Montreal.”
Mr. Mauldin indicated that, “The president’s remarks on Nafta have worried producers of major U.S. crops and meat who generally enjoy duty-free access to Mexican and Canadian markets under the pact. In addition, major farm groups are worried that a focus on bolstering U.S. manufacturing in the negotiations could put U.S. agriculture in the back seat.
“On Monday Mr. Trump didn’t discuss exiting Nafta but instead said, ‘We’re reviewing all of our trade agreements to make sure that they’re fair and reciprocal.’ Mr. Trump has said less about Nafta in recent months in part to allow U.S. officials wide latitude at the negotiation table, according to a source familiar with White House thinking.”
The Journal article added that, “‘I expect President Trump to keep the pledge he made today to make trade deals that don’t harm agriculture,’ said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa) in a statement.”
And Sally Persons reported on Monday at The Washington Times Online that, “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday that he advised President Trump not to withdraw from the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, but rather renegotiate.
“‘NAFTA needs to be modernized, like anything 25 years ago, but we think it would be bad policy if we withdrew,’ Mr. Perdue said on Fox News referring to the North American Free Trade agreement.”
The Washington Times update noted that, “Mr. Perdue said the president, who campaigned on withdrawing from NAFTA, had an open mind on renegotiating the treaty rather than leaving it completely.”