Posted: 4:00 am Monday, January 8th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
In his first foray into the arena of agricultural policy, President Donald Trump goes to Tennessee on Monday to address a convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, as the White House says Mr. Trump will outline ideas on how best to spur new economic growth in rural areas of the United States, which have not shared in recent job gains.
“While other sectors of the American economy have largely recovered from the Great Recession, rural America has lagged in almost every indicator,” says a new report from the Trump Administration.
“The administration recognizes that those challenges exist, and is committed to not overlooking them or ignoring them,” said Ray Starling, a special assistant to Mr. Trump who deals with farm affairs.
On Monday, President Trump will travel to Nashville, Tennessee, to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting—the first time since 1992 an American president has spoken at the event.
— TRUMP MOVEMENT (@TRUMPMOVEMENTUS) January 6, 2018
Just think about the red and blue maps of the 2016 elections, and it’s obvious that farmers and those who live in rural areas were much more likely to have voted for Mr. Trump – but many in the agricultural community have concerns about where the President is heading on trade policy.
While praising the Trump Administration for being more open to the concerns of agricultural interests – especially when it comes to environmental regulations – the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation said on Sunday what Mr. Trump does with trade agreements is a big concern to farmers.
“Trade should not be a dirty word,” said Zippy Duvall, a Georgia farmer who is the AFBF President.
“Because without those global markets our already-depressed farm economy would go down even more,” Duvall added.
While many farmers would like to preserve existing trade deals – which help send billions in American agricultural products around the world – President Trump has made clear he wants to shake things up with the North American Free Trade Agreement and other agreements – and that’s drawn a somewhat worried response in Nashville.
— Farmers for Free Trade (@FarmersForTrade) January 7, 2018
Everyone attending #AFBF18 had a @FarmersForTrade button and brochure on their seats. NYFB supports free and fair trade. Our state's farmers need to keep markets open to sell our great products to our neighbors in Canada and in Mexico. pic.twitter.com/091zUlWFYi
— New York Farm Bureau (@NYFarmBureau) January 7, 2018
“Yeah, clearly, trade will be on the mind of folks in the room on Monday, and I think you’ll hear the President touch upon that,” a Senior Administration Official told reporters at the White House last week.
While officials acknowledged that some of Mr. Trump’s ideas might not go down that well in farm country, they say the President’s overall goal is simple – to expand U.S. opportunities to sell products overseas, and make sure those trade deals are more hospitable to American farmers and businesses.
“So at the end of the day, I don’t think our objectives conflict,” the official added.
After making that farm speech, the President will then fly to Atlanta, where he will attend the national championship college football game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama.
“We look forward to a fantastic national championship,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week, noting that both teams are “in the heart of Trump country.”
This will be Mr. Trump’s second football that he has attended since taking office. The President went to the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia in December.