Editorial: A Presidential Start to 2018

President Trump and American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall give a thumbs up during the AFBF Convention this week. ( Photo: AgWeb )

Editor's Note: This editorial is from Farm Policy Facts, a non-profit organization representing a coalition of farmers and commodity groups. It was created to educate Members of Congress and Americans about the importance of agriculture and its contribution to a strong and vibrant United States. The opinions presented here are those of Farm Policy Facts.

More than 21 million Americans have jobs because of our nation’s farm and ranch families, who take big risks each and every year to feed, clothe and fuel the United States.

Yet, it has been a quarter century since an American president has addressed a leading U.S. farm organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation. The last was President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

That changed when President Donald J. Trump took the podium at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday afternoon.

“Farmers and ranchers and our rural communities are the bedrock of our nation. President Trump knows that, and his willingness to devote his time to talk directly with Farm Bureau members was a memorable occasion,” said Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall.

Truly a memorable occasion. It was one in which American agriculture took center stage in the national discussion as our great nation continues unprecedented economic growth.

Trump’s decision to start the year by speaking directly to many of the nation’s farmers and ranchers shows the importance his administration is seeking to put on rural America and U.S. agriculture.

The coming year is a big one for America’s heartland. Farm incomes are down 53% from just three years ago. Farmers are still picking up the pieces from disastrous hurricanes, droughts and wildfires in 2017. Subsidized foreign industries continue to put U.S. farmers and ranchers at a great disadvantage. And opponents of American agriculture are already fighting farmers and ranchers and using misleading attacks on U.S. farm policy.

But we have a chance in 2018 to give rural America a boost that the rest of the nation has begun to experience as it continues to recover from the Great Recession.

Fixing cotton and dairy policies and completing a disaster bill is a key place to start. And, then, by passing a strong 2018 Farm Bill, Congress will help ensure that our farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to weather distorted global markets marked by high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs and other predatory trade practices.

A lot has changed since President Bush addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation. But one thing has not: American farmers and ranchers deserve our backing with a strong and sensible U.S. farm policy.

President Bush captured it well back in 1992.

“Put these initiatives together, and you get a farm policy that lets farmers do what they do best: Farm and compete all over the world. Our policies reflect the values that we all cherish: Self-reliance, generosity, family, community. They draw upon your strengths, your intelligence, diligence, determination, and faith.”