Trump promises US farmers rural development improvements during annual meeting

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

'Rural America' accounts for 72% of US land and 46m people, according to the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. ©GettyImages/gualbertobecerra
'Rural America' accounts for 72% of US land and 46m people, according to the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. ©GettyImages/gualbertobecerra

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US dairy industry leaders voiced their approval of the Trump Administration’s recent pledge to improve rural workforce development through initiatives like universal broadband access and increased biotechnology.

Planned improvements to the US rural workforce sector were announced by President Donald Trump at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week.

Trump signed two executive orders at the meeting that would expand broadband access, addressing two of the more than 100 recommendations drawn up by the Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“Our dairy foods companies, which are predominately located in rural communities, employ nearly one million skilled individuals, generate more than $39bn in direct wages and have an overall economic impact of more than $200bn, according to Dairy Delivers, IDFA’s economic impact tool,”​ IDFA president and CEO, Michael Dykes, said.

IDFA's members range from multinational corporations to single-family companies, and together represent 85% of the milk and other consumer dairy products produced and marketed in the US. 

“With the training and educational investments, expanded apprenticeship programs and access to career development programs the president outlined today, dairy companies will be able to continue providing job opportunities in thousands of rural communities across the United States.”

During the annual meeting, Trump also touted the benefits of the new federal tax bill to American farmers, including reforming the estate tax and Waters of the US rule. 

Uncertain NAFTA strategy

During the meeting, Trump promised US farmers that the administration would strike a “better deal”​ from NAFTA (the North America Free Trade Agreement) and that negotiation on its terms is still under way.

“The President’s additional comments on NAFTA today seem to indicate a deepening understanding of the critical connection between trade agreements and the farming community,”​ Dykes said.

The US dairy industry has strongly supported​ the preservation of NAFTA, a deal that has more than quadrupled the amount of dairy exports to Mexico corresponding to an additional five million US jobs, according to USDEC.

Its trade relationship with Canada has been much more strained, however, as the US has demanded​ that its neighbor to the north end its supply chain management system for dairy products that has hiked tariffs on US dairy products.

“But think of it: When Mexico is making all of that money, when Canada is making all of that money, it’s not the easiest negotiation. But we’re going to make it fair for you people again,”​ Trump said. 

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