A few days ago, President Donald J. Trump spoke to 4,000 attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 2018 Annual Convention. This is the first time since 1992 that a U.S. president has taken the time to address the farm group, and whether you like his politics or not, it’s refreshing to see the leader of our nation making room in his schedule for America’s farmers and ranchers.
In his address, Trump touched on topics including the election, tax cuts, stock market, WOTUS, rural broadband internet access, Farm Bill, crop insurance, youth in 4-H and FFA and death tax reform. In an effort to reduce government size and spending, Trump told the audience that for every new regulation his administration has introduced, a whopping 22 have been cut.
Noticeably absent during his speech were other major concerns facing rural America — health care and NAFTA trade negotiations, just to name a few.
However, as reported by Farm Progress’ Holly Spangler, AFBF president Zippy Duvall praised the president, saying, “I can tell you that it has been a breath of fresh air to be able to advocate for getting things done, instead of having to constantly defend agriculture against a steady stream of challenges from our own government.”
With just one year into his term, Trump still has plenty of time to accomplish more of his campaign promises, and it’s nice that agriculture is allowed a seat at the table to discuss top priorities and to effect change that could benefit our industry. Moving forward, it will be important for producers to be active in agricultural organizations that align with their beliefs to help develop policies at a local level that can then be taken to Washington, D.C.
As I often write, being our own advocates, whether it’s in good times or bad, is a critical component to our future success. No matter which side of the aisle you align with, we can’t place blind faith in politicians and bureaucrats. We must continue to work to influence consumers and change public perception once again in our favor.
One champion of our cause that I believe is helping in this endeavor is Mike Rowe, popular television personality and advocate for hard-working Americans who make a living doing “dirty jobs.”
In a recent video, which has been viewed 11.5 million times online, Rowe says farmers deserve more respect. Here is what he had to say about modern agriculturalists in the United States:
“We really don’t think of the modern farmer in aspirational terms. Farmers are often portrayed as dirty, lazy and stupid, but they deserve our respect. One-and-a-half percent of our population feeds 300 million people. If you’re a farmer, you’re facing challenges unlike what most business owners would ever remotely contemplate — real estate challenges, EPA challenges, energy challenges. Every single thing that’s in the headlines affects farming, but farming in an aspirational sense is never in the headlines.
“The number of farms in the U.S. went from 6 million in 1935 to 2 million in 2012, and farmers’ incomes are in their sharpest decline since the Great Depression. Despite these challenges, farmers continue to do the incredible work of feeding the nation. We’re not seeing the incredible chemistry which has allowed us to feed the world.”
Not any one advocate is perfect, but every positive, forward movement our industry can achieve in the public eye is a win in my book. Whether that’s from the president, a television personality or a farmer or rancher back home, we must continue to build on this forward momentum and work to create awareness, understanding and appreciation for the work we do in rural America.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.