President Donald J. Trump is an unabashed advocate for America’s farmers and ranchers and his administration has delivered prosperity for rural America. Whether by cutting taxes for all Americans, fighting for better trade deals, expanding the use of ethanol, or connecting rural Americans to high-quality broadband Internet, the President has made sure that America is better off.
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When the coronavirus struck America, President Trump directed USDA to create the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which includes direct support payments to farmers, and an innovative program called the Farmers to Families Food Box.
USDA has provided American farmers and ranchers with access to more than $34 billion in emergency funds to help meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than 110 million boxes of food to communities across the country, where they are needed most.
One of the reasons our economy has rebounded is the president’s historic 2017 tax reform. This had a profound effect on the American worker, lowering tax rates for nearly every American, especially middle-class folks.
It also impacted the farm economy. As landowners, most farmers recognize the value of the president’s tax cuts, which virtually repealed the death tax, thereby keeping family farms in the family without penalty.
One often overlooked yet crucial part of tax reform was its impact on pass-through entities. More than 98% of family farms are pass-through entities. These family farms constitute more than 90% of all United States agricultural production.
On average, the president’s tax cuts decreased taxes for these small businesses by 3.3%. This isn’t pennies in people’s pockets -- this is real money. More than 40 million Americans pay taxes on pass-through entities. The tax cuts put on average an additional $6,500 in the pockets of the American worker.
The president has also tackled overregulation that was strangling small businesses. At USDA, we took the president’s deregulation directive and completed 38 deregulatory items for every five regulatory items for a total regulatory annual savings of over $262 million.
Perhaps most importantly, President Trump repealed the Waters of the United States rule – the days are gone when the federal government can claim a small farm pond on private land as navigable waters.
Additionally, the American agricultural economy depends on trade and the President has done so much to create free and fair trading relationships with our largest trading partners.
Trade deals like the USMCA and the United States-Japan Trade Deal help America retain our competitive edge and increase the prosperity of Americans across the country. The Japan deal eliminates or reduces tariffs on $7.2 billion of United States food and agricultural products.
The USMCA helps all of America’s diverse agricultural industries. American dairy producers have increased access to Canada’s highly protected milk market. The USMCA eliminates Canada’s unfair Class 7 milk pricing scheme that was creatively developed to allow unfairly low-priced Canadian dairy products to undersell U.S. products in Canada and in third-country markets.
United States poultry and egg producers will also see expanded access to Canada’s market, directly benefiting American producers in states like Iowa, Georgia, Arkansas, and California.
President Donald J. Trump is an unapologetic advocate for America around the world. For the past three years, he has pushed back against China’s unfair trade practices to protect America’s economic and national security interests.
China has not played by the rules for a long time, and President Trump has vowed to not let China’s cheating continue. The historic Phase One Agreement has led to a record pace of Chinese purchases, boosting agricultural commodity prices.
Having a good business environment means nothing if you don’t have access to the Internet. Millions of Americans working, going to school, and living in America’s heartland unfortunately still do not have access to high-speed broadband internet connectivity. In fact, of the 21 million Americans who lack high-speed broadband internet access, 80 percent are in rural areas and on tribal lands.
The impact of this divide is so much more than an inconvenience – it is devastating to the quality of life and overall prosperity in America’s rural communities, and therefore America as a whole.
Since taking office, President Trump has done more to narrow that gap than any other president since the 1930s by funding mile after mile of high-speed fiber optic cable to connect rural Americans to the Internet.
So far, USDA has funded hundreds of projects with more than $1.2 billion in grants and loans.
At the end of the day, farmers today are better off thanks to President Trump’s policy initiatives, trade policies and his strong support.
According to the Economic Research Service, farm income is forecasted to be at its highest level since 2013, reversing course after bottoming out in 2016. This didn’t happen by accident.
Sonny Perdue is the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.