President Trump addressed the convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Austin, Texas Sunday. Thousands of farmers and ranchers were in attendance. It was Trump’s 14th visit to Texas since he took office and he was fresh off a victory with the passage of the USMCA in Congress.
The trade agreement is a beautiful thing, Trump told the crowd. Everyone wants a piece of the action.
“I’m thrilled to be back in this incredible state of Texas,” Trump said at the start of his hour-long speech. “This is where people are known for being tough and strong and hardworking, loyal, fiercely patriotic, just like America’s incredible farmers.”
The new trade agreement, negotiated by Trump, was heralded as a win for farmers and ranchers in Texas, which has more ports of entry than any other state in the U.S.
“It’s being prepared now, beautifully prepared,” Trump said of the legislation, which he is expected to sign this week. “Everyone wants to come back to America.”
By all reports, Trump received a warm welcome from the members of the association. His welcome could have been predicted if the results of a monthly poll released Sunday are accurate. Farm Journal gave Trump the highest level of support since he took office. Of the 5,000 ranchers and farmers polled, 1,286 responded. Most were in Midwest states – Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska. 83% of the respondents support Trump’s job performance. “We have heard repeatedly from farmers that they believe in the end of the trade fight with China,” said John Herath, news director at Farm Journal.
The uptick in farmer support comes following the signing of the so-called phase-one trade agreement in Washington on Wednesday. The deal stipulates that China will purchase roughly $36 billion worth of U.S. agricultural exports in 2020, and over $43 billion in 2021.
Also playing a role in boosting farmer sentiment is the U.S. Senate passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Thursday, the free-trade deal replacing the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
“This trade agreement comes at a critical time for farmers and ranchers, increasing optimism that we’ll turn the corner in 2020,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall in a statement Thursday following the Senate vote.
As he enjoyed the support of the convention-goers, he acknowledged that despite his successes, he has been impeached. Freshman Rep. Sylvia Garcia, from Houston, is a member of the House team prosecuting the case in the Senate. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are strong defenders of Trump in the Senate and another Texan, Ken Starr, is serving as a member of Trump’s defense team.
“We’re achieving what no administration has ever achieved before,” Trump said. “And what do I get for it? I get impeached!”
“But that’s OK the farmers are sticking with Trump,” he added.
And, he assured the farmers that he wants people to come here legally. “We want them [people] to come legally, and we want them to help the farmers,” Trump said. “Just so you understand, I want them coming to help the farmers.”
Farmers who were interviewed before the president’s speech acknowledged their support for Trump, though it sometimes hasn’t been easy. The trade war with China, for example, has caused the price of soybeans to plunge. Farmers are willing to ride it out, though, and are pleased that Trump took the fight to the Chinese.
Stephanie Mackey, a soybean farmer from Kentucky, saw Trump speak at the Farm Bureau conventions in 2017 and 2018. This year, she brought her kids and one of her kids’ friends.
Mackey said her soybean prices hit “rock bottom” during the U.S. trade war with China, but she’s hopeful the U.S.-China trade deal that Trump signed last week will help farmers bounce back.
“When you go to the market or try to get your contracts and the prices are just rock bottom, you’re just like, “Come on, there’s gotta be something they can do,’” Mackey said. “And Trump got it done.”
Trump knows of their struggles and thanked the farmers for sticking with him.
Trump during his speech acknowledged the hard times farmers have faced as a result of his policies, but promised “the best days for Americans and the best days for farmers and ranchers are yet to come.”
“Thank you very much to the farmers and ranchers for staying with me and for saying, ‘the President is right,” Trump said. ‘“Yes, it’s tough right now, but the president is doing the right thing.”’
Farmers didn’t only have to contend with trade wars that drove down prices, they also had record levels of rainfall in many areas during the spring that brought about financial losses. Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers wait for Trump to sign the USMCA when it comes to his desk. Traders believe that China will start making big purchases soon and farmers will be on the road to recovery. That’s a good thing, especially in an election year.
The crowd erupts in excitement as President @realDonaldTrump takes the stage at @FarmBureau convention. He says he’s thrilled to be back in the incredible state of Texas. Watch now at https://t.co/4qrP3DXKXZ. pic.twitter.com/mfnVAeLYMy
— Bryce Newberry (@Bryce_Newberry) January 19, 2020