Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
January 14, 2019 | 12:45 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: That’s such a great song. We should just let it play, right? (Laughter.) We had a little luck with that song. And he’s terrific — a good supporter. We appreciate it.
We really appreciate this, too. I know you have a record crowd; that’s nice. It’s always nice to set records. And I want to thank Sonny. And he’s setting records. We’re setting records together for farmers and for agriculture. We’ve had so many good weeks and good days, and it’s only going to get better because we’re doing trade deals that are going to get you so much business, you’re not even going to believe it. Your problem will be: “What do we do? We need more acreage immediately. We got to plant.”
But I will say, we are doing some things with trade that are going to have a tremendous impact. You’re going to be doing business with Canada, you’re going to be doing business with places where it was very, very difficult to do business. It was very unfair. And a lot of great things are going to happen.
So, I want to really thank everybody here, and I want to congratulate a very, very good and exciting football team that I watched yesterday, the New Orleans Saints. (Applause.) You know, it’s — I can see there’s a little group over here. I know who I’m talking to. The rest of the room is going like, “Eh, I don’t want to talk about that.” (Laughter.) But you have to say, Drew Brees — he’s one hell of a quarterback and it was a tremendous game. And so congratulations to the folks from this area and from this great state. (Applause.) It’s a great state.
I’m thrilled to be here in a state that I’ve had a lot of luck with — and I love a lot of people in this state; I know a lot of people — for, really, a truly historic occasion. This is the 100th annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation — 100 exactly. If it was 99 — although, I was here for 99, too, I have to be honest, right? I like the farmers. What can I do? I like farmers. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
For 100 years, this organization has faithfully represented the men and women who are the backbone of our country, truly.
Let us all show our appreciation for a very dear friend and a leader — a great leader — Zippy Duval. Where’s Zippy? Zippy. (Applause.) Where is, Zippy? What a job he does. He only called about 100 times to make sure I’m coming. (Laughter.) Thank you, Zippy. Great job.
On this special anniversary, we gather to celebrate America’s proud farming heritage. Through your sweat, through all of your work, the strength of your hands, and the faith in your hearts, the American farmer feeds, and fuels, and sustains our nation. So true.
We are joined today by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. Thank you, Governor, for being here. Thank you. Thank you, John Bel. (Applause.) Thank you. Along with many members of Congress who are true champions of American agriculture.
An incredibly talented man, a great doctor — he knows more about healthcare than anybody, and he’s somebody that — he’s really helped us out in so many different ways. And he’s yours: Senator Bill Cassidy. Bill? Thank you very much, Bill. (Applause.) Appreciate it.
A woman who had a tremendous victory — she came in for a short period of time. She was appointed, and it’s always hard when you’re appointed. If you look — I don’t know about this, Cindy, but you take a look — they don’t do too well. You did very well. You won in an incredible state: Mississippi. Cindy Hyde-Smith, thank you. That was a great win. (Applause.)
A brilliant guy — he’s very deceiving. My wife said, “I love watching him on television.” And I said, “Who?” “John Kennedy.” I said, “John Kennedy? I don’t know.” But, you know, I thought maybe she was talking about the other John Kennedy. She was talking — this is a man who is totally brilliant. You know, I don’t know if you know what this means: Oxford. Right? He went to Oxford. Oxford is a very — I’m very much into the world of schools. Oxford — you have to be very, very smart to go to Oxford. And he’s very smart.
He also loves this state. He loves the people. We gave a rally the night before he won that was incredible. And I looked — and I looked at that crowd. We had to have 40,000 people or more at a hangar — an airport hangar. I said, “You know, John Kennedy? You’re going to win.” And he won and he won big. And he’s my friend. John Kennedy. Thank you, John. (Applause.) Oxford. “Oxford John.” (Laughs.) Great.
Congressman Ralph Abraham. Thank you, Congressman. Where are you? Congressman? (Applause.) Great job you do. He does a great job.
Congressman Garrett Graves. And you know Garrett. Thank you, Garrett. Good job. Young, strong, smart. (Applause.) We got a lot of good politicians down here.
And the legend from Louisiana — a man who’s got a lot of courage. He was playing second base and it didn’t work out so well for him that day, but I have never seen anybody with more strength and really more courage than Steve Scalise. Steve Scalise. (Applause.) He got hit hard. He got hit hard. He never even thought about quitting.
He — I was there the night, in his hospital. And they didn’t think he was going to make it. And I looked at him; he wasn’t looking too good, I have to tell you. This is the first time I’m telling you this, Steve; you weren’t looking too sharp. And his wife loves him, because she was a mess. She had tears pouring down. I’ll tell you a couple of these little facts. Your family loves you, Steve.
But all of a sudden, he started making a little progress, a little more. Worked so hard. And then, a few months ago, he was in a baseball game. And it was the Republicans against the Democrats. He’s playing second base. And he didn’t have great mobility, to be honest. In other words, moving like a foot to his right, a foot to the left — that was about it. And he gets the first pitch of the game. This is in a stadium, and a lot of people watching, and it’s on television. And they put him at second base for one play.
And the first hit is a smash — ground ball — hit at Steve. And I’m pretty good at this stuff; I look, I say, “Oh, that’s going right to second base.” It went right in him — right at him. He bent down, stopped that ball, threw it to first. The place went crazy. And he then walked off the field in great triumph. (Laughter and applause.) Who could have done that but my Steve, right? (Applause.) That was incredible. That was incredible.
He’s a courageous guy. He’s a great guy. He’s also a really fine person. So, Steve Scalise — what you’ve been through, Steve, is incredible. And congratulations. Incredible job.
As you all know, there is currently a tremendous humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. It’s tremendous. It’s been there for years. It’s been there for decades. But because of what we’re doing and because of how well our country is doing —
And please sit down. Please. I’m just looking — and then the media — the fake news — they’ll say, “He got no standing ovations.” You know why? Because everybody stayed standing. (Laughter.) Wait until you see that. It’s true. Oh, they’ll do it. They’ll figure something out. (Applause.) That’s true. (Applause.) That’s true. (Laughs.) (Applause.) That’s true. They can figure it out.
They can take the best thing — I go home, I say, “Darling, I did such a great job. Wait until you see the news tomorrow on something.” (Laughter.) North Korea, China. We’re doing great in the trade deal. China — this, that. They can make anything you do look bad.
But I was watching as you’re standing. And I said, “You know, if they sit, it’s probably better for me, because every once in a while, they’ll stand.” (Laughter.) The other way, they’ll say, “The crowd did not appreciate him. They didn’t give him one standing ovation.” (Laughter.) Anyway, thank you very much.
Women and children are being ruthlessly exploited at our southern border by vicious coyotes — who would think of this? Human traffickers. Now, when you hear the words “human traffickers,” you think about 1,000 years ago, 2,000 years ago. You wouldn’t think it’s worse today in the world — this is a world problem — than it’s ever been.
And the reason it’s worse is because of the Internet. They target young women. They target young children — the Internet. And they come in through our southern border into our country. And they’ll have women taped — their mouths with duct tape, with electrical tape. They tape their face, their hair, their hands behind their back, their legs. They put them in the backseat of cars and vans, and they go — they don’t come in through your port of entry because you’d see them. You couldn’t do that.
They come in through our border, where we don’t have any barriers or walls. And they drive right in and they have no problems. And we’ll get that stopped. We’re going to have a wall. We’re going to have a barrier. We’re going to have something that’s going to be very strong. (Applause.) One of the most important things.
And I’ve built a lot of wall. You saw it the other day. They kept saying, “You didn’t build wall.” I said, “I built wall.” So I actually decided I’d better put a picture for you to see. But we built a lot more than that. And we renovated a lot of pretty good stuff that we made good again. It was in very bad shape.
But we’ve done a lot. We want to finish it because, you know, you can’t have openings. Because if you have an opening, they go here and they just sort of go over this way. They find the open spot, they come in. And we have to build — what we have to build — probably a total of 550 miles including the renovations.
And we’ve done a lot of work. People don’t talk about it. I don’t talk about it because, until we’re finished, the big thing is we have to get it done.
And we’ve had great support from John, your senator; Bill, your senator; from everybody. We’ve had tremendous — Steve is working hard in the House. Your congressmen are working really hard. Really hard. Because it’s common sense. What we’re talking about is common sense.
Last month alone, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought across our borders. Twenty thousand. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the journey up from Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador. Think of that. Think of that. Hard to believe.
Vast quantities of lethal narcotics are being smuggled across the border. Most of the drugs coming into our country come in through the southern border — and much of it comes through areas that are not your portals — including meth, and cocaine, and heroin, and fentanyl. Heroin alone, if you look at the heroin epidemic — it’s an epidemic — heroin alone kills 300 Americans a week. And 90 percent of it — at least — crosses our southern border. It comes in through our southern border.
And I’ve spent a lot of time with Secret Service and with Border Patrol and ICE — incredible people — and they show me the methods that they use — how they hide it. They put it in hubcaps. They put it in engines. They put it in areas you wouldn’t believe. They’re brilliant, in many ways. They’re brilliant. You wouldn’t even think of what they do to get things in. And we can stop it. But we can’t stop it if we’re going to play politics. And the numbers you’re talking about are peanuts compared — you’ll make the money back numerous times a year.
In 2017, drugs killed over 70,000 of our fellow citizens — think of that, that’s like a football stadium loaded up — and imposed costs on our society in excess of $700 billion dollars.
In the last two years, ICE officers arrested 266,000 illegal aliens — think of that — with criminal records, including 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent murders or killings.
The crisis of illegal immigration impacts all Americans — threatening public safety, overwhelming public resources, straining our local schools and hospitals, undermining U.S. workers, and claiming countless innocent lives. And I will tell you, I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally. They have to come in through a process. (Applause.) Thank you.
As President, the defense of our nation is my highest and most important duty. And this is the defense of our nation, just like we prepare for other nations that you think more traditionally is what that sentence refers to.
When it comes to keeping the American people safe, I will never, ever back down. I didn’t need this fight. This is a rough fight. We’re dealing against people who think that if they can stop me from building the wall — again, we’ve already done a lot of work — but they think that’s a good thing for 2020, because they’re not going to win.
They think if they can stop me from building the wall, that’s good. This is the reason why they don’t want the wall built — because they all know it works. They all approved it numerous times. I mean, Chuck Schumer had his hand up every time this would come up. The senators know this. They’re only doing this because of the 2020 election because I said I’ll build the wall and I’m going to build the wall.
And it’s only one of many things that I promised. I mean, if you look at — (applause) — I got you the biggest tax cut — beyond the Ronald Reagan tax cuts. ANWR, getting rid of the individual mandate, the biggest cuts in regulations in the history of our country — and we’re going further. (Applause.) That might be the biggest reason that our country is doing so much better than other countries and why we’re doing so well.
But they view this as a political thing because this was one of the big things I — I said, “We’re going to do tax cuts. We’re going to do regulation. We’re going to do…” And, you know, we’ve done most of what we said. One of the — that’s a lot of news back there. One of the folks back there said that “He’s actually done more than he promised.” It’s true. I have actually done more than I promised. We’ve done a lot. Even with the veterans. (Applause.) A lot of veterans in Louisiana.
We got Veterans Choice. We got Veterans Choice approved, which is pretty amazing. They’ve been trying to get that for years and years — decades and decades.
And we got Accountability — VA Accountability. When you had somebody treating our veterans horribly, you couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t fire them — whether it’s unions, or whether it’s civil service, or whatever it may have been. But for decades and decades, somebody could do anything they wanted. They can steal, they could abuse our veterans, they can be sadists, they can do whatever they want and you couldn’t fire them. And I got Accountability approved. Everyone said you couldn’t get that — too much power against it. We got it done, and now we can say, “Jim, you’re fired. Get out of here. We don’t want you taking care of our veterans.” (Applause.) That was a big thing. A lot of help from those people.
So we got a lot done, but they view the wall as being a big item that, if I don’t do it, you know, it’s a negative. It’s a negative. And I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it because we have to do it. It’s common sense. We have to do it.
If you look at the caravans coming up, if you look at what’s going on — you take a look. If we didn’t have some of those walls — the military has been incredible. They came up and they built some barriers — they kept thousands and thousands of people from overrunning various sections of our country. We’ve done a great job at the border, but we need that extra — we need that barrier because you can’t do this.
You can have all the people you want dressed in military. You can have ICE. You can have Border Patrol. If you don’t have that barrier, there’s not a thing you can do. You know, they all say, “We like technology.” I like technology, too. But we can have all the drones in the world flying around; we can have all the sensors in the world, but if you don’t have a strong steel or concrete barrier, there’s no way you’re going to stop these people from rushing.
Last week — and we have no idea who they are. And you got some — I’m sure — very good ones, but you got some real bad ones.
Last week, I traveled to McAllen, Texas to tour the border and meet with the heroes of ICE and Border Patrol. These great patriots made clear what they need from Congress and to end this terrible crisis. And we will end it. We will end it. You know, when we have proper security, people aren’t going to come, except for the people we want to come because we want to take people in to help our farmers, et cetera. Very important. We’re going to make that actually easier for them — to help the farmers. (Applause.) Because you need these people. No, you need these people. We’re going to make it easier. (Applause.)
I mean, I’m glad I told you that because, you know, look, you’re in that business and a lot of people don’t understand this. You need those — you need people to help you with the farms. And I’m not going to rule that out. I’m going to make that easier for them to come in and to work the farms. You’ve had some people for 20, 25 years. They’re incredible. Then they go home and they can’t get back in. That’s not going to happen.
But we’re keeping the wrong ones out, okay? We don’t want the wrong ones coming into our country. And, for that, it’s going to be almost impossible to get in. For the people that work the farms, that have been here, that have gone through this very short but good process, that are going to help our country, it’s going to be easier for them to get in that what they have to go through now. So just remember that. (Applause.) I know a lot about the farming world. And, if I don’t, Sonny teaches me.
They explained that there is no substitute for a wall — these are the ICE people and the Border Patrol people — or a physical barrier. There is no substitute. Where a barrier exists, illegal crossings plummet dramatically.
In El Paso, they had — it was one of the most dangerous cities in the country. A wall was put up. It went from being one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest cities in the country overnight — overnight. Does that tell you something? (Applause.) And I can give you many examples of that.
They say it’s “medieval” — a wall. It is medieval. So is a wheel. I always say “a wheel.” But every time I look out, they all have wheels. You know, they may have gone electric and they may have done lots of different things, but every car I’ve seen still has wheels. (Laughter.) Wheels work and walls work. You know, there’s some things you can’t beat. (Applause.)
That’s why we’ve asked Congress to fund a steel barrier, or whatever you want to call it. This barrier will stop illegal activity, while directing lawful trade, travel, and commerce to our ports of entry. These ports are America’s doors, but doors only work when you have strength. We need strength. Right now, we have weakness.
They’re forming a new caravan in Honduras. Honduras is not helping us. They could stop it. We send them hundreds of millions of dollars a year — El Salvador, Honduras, and other places — Guatemala — hundreds of millions, but they don’t help us, like so many nations. We help them; they don’t help us. We don’t even get their votes often when we need their vote in the United Nations. They don’t vote for us. Why? Because the wrong people are asking them.
So those days are over. So I said just before I came — we’re looking at a whole plan — why are we sending them money if they’re allowing caravans to form right in the middle of their cities? Why are we sending them money? (Applause.) A lot of changes have been made in this country in less than two years, I will tell you that. A lot of changes. And really good changes — changes that people like you, with common sense and smarts, fully understand. And that’s why we’re liking where we are and the country is changing very rapidly for the better.
As part of our overall border security plan, we have also asked Congress to approve cutting-edge technology to detect drugs. There’s incredible technology today. So when these cars do come in through the ports of entry, you have technology today that’s so incredible. We don’t use it. We don’t have it because our leaders decided not to spend the money. Well, you make it back every month — probably more than that — because the drugs coming through the southern border are destroying the fabric of our country. It’s so bad. It’s so bad. (Applause.) So we have to stop it. This technology is incredible.
To fund more agents — we’re putting that high on the list — officers, beds. Believe it or not, we’re one of the only countries — I say “one,” because every time I say something else they’ll say, “Oh, well, there was a country that also did it.” Somebody comes into our country, they touch one foot on the ground, and we have to catch them. It’s called, “catch.” We then take their names and we bring them to a court — can you believe this? — and we release them. But, see, we’re trying to do “catch-and-hold.” “Catch-and-not-release.” But you have to release. So we release.
And they go into our country, and then you announce — these are the laws — then you say, “Come back in three years for your trial.” Tell me, what percentage of people come back? Would you say 100 percent? No, you’re a little off. Like, how about 2 percent? (Laughter.) And those people, you almost don’t want, because they cannot be very smart. (Laughter.) Two percent. Two percent. Two percent come back. Those two percent are not going to make America great again, that I can tell you. (Laughter and applause.) Crazy.
So we have that and we have chain migration, where somebody comes in, and then his mother comes in, his father comes in, his grandmother comes in, his uncle comes in, his cousins come in. We had a guy — a radical Islamic terrorist in New York — area I know very well — driving down the West Side highway. Beautiful — Hudson River to his right. We built this gorgeous park all along the river. It’s gorgeous. People are running; they’re in great shape. We ought to all — some of these guys in the front row, they should do it with me. We could run. (Laughter.) Some of my friends over there. Sonny — maybe Sonny and I will go take a jog. (Laughter.)
But you know what? I’ll tell you, these are people that are great people, and they’re running and they keep — and this horrible person, going down 60 miles an hour down a highway, decides, “Oh, that’s nice. We’ll make a right turn.” Hits a whole group of people purposely, screaming all sorts of things that they scream. And 8 people died; 12 or 13 were injured.
Nobody talks about the injured. You know, some of the injured lost legs, lost arms. You know, this is — they say, “Oh, well, 12 were injured.” You know, like, injured — you think, like, a headache. No, no. They lost arms. They lost legs. One lost two legs. So 12 were horribly injured. And he’s allowed to have his family come here. So they checked, and they said that he had about 22 people came in — chain migration. In other words, because he’s here — so a whole group of people come in. And we don’t want that.
We have another one — the lottery. The lottery. We take people from countries through the lottery. Now, this is common sense. Do you think the country is giving us their finest? No, they’re not. No, they’re not. They’re giving us the opposite of their finest. And we have a lottery system. “Oh, let’s pick him out. Oh, wonderful.” Doesn’t work out too well, this lottery system.
But this is the law. This was passed by Democrats and, I guess, Republicans. You know, maybe they voted — who knows? But these are laws that have to be changed. These are — these are sick, demented laws that we have to change. We can’t allow this to keep happening. The people that are sent to our country are not the people that we want. They come in through the lottery. They come in through chain migration. Think of it: This man that killed 8 people and so badly injured 12, they say he’s about 22 relatives coming in that are here. And take a look at how well his relatives are doing. It’s not a good picture.
So we have to change our laws. It’s very hard because the Democrats don’t want to change them. But I hope that common sense and people like this can persuade them, because it’s gotten to a point where you have to. We really have no choice. And we’re fighting hard. We’re fighting very hard for you. We’re making a lot of progress, I can tell you that. (Applause.)
Here with us today is Jim Chilton from Arizona. Jim’s ranch runs along the U.S-Mexico border. The deadly — very deadly — Sinaloa cartel, one of the most vicious drug cartels anywhere in the world, runs a major drug trafficking route right through Jim’s ranch. Many of these routes used to run through San Diego until the wall was built by us, by me. (Applause.) Sorry about that, Jim. (Laughs.) I think Jim has just got angry at me; he just heard that. Sorry, Jim. Because now, what they did, they went to Jim’s ranch. I think I cost him a lot of money. Maybe he won’t stand up after all. But it’s a very sad situation.
In the last two years, the cameras on Jim’s ranch have captured roughly 1,000 pictures of major drug packers, they call them. For years, these criminals have damaged Jim’s property, injured his livestock, and started dozens of fire, which Jim estimates cost more than $2 million dollars in 2017 alone.
Last June, a Border Patrol agent was checking sensors on the Clinton’s — and Chilton’s ranch when he was shot multiple times by these sinister drug traffickers. Multiple times. And they don’t even think about. By the way, they shoot — it’s not like, “Oh, gee, I committed a terrible thing.” They don’t even think about it. They don’t even think. They wake up the next morning and they couldn’t care less.
As Jim has said, “Every time I leave the ranch, my wife doesn’t know whether I’ll ever return.”
I would like to ask Jim to come up and say a few words. Jim, please come up. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. CHILTON: Mr. President, we need a wall. (Applause.) I would say we need a wall all around all the length of the border. We’ve got to stop the drug packers bringing drugs in to poison our people. And I would say to Speaker Pelosi, walls are not immoral. (Applause.) In fact, I’ve traveled around the world, and the biggest wall I’ve ever seen is around the Vatican. Now, you can’t tell me that the wonderful priest and officials of the Roman Catholic Church, including the Pope, are immoral. They have a wall. Why can’t we? (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jim. (Applause.) Thank you, Jim. And I’m sorry for your problems, but we’ll get it straightened out.
The government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: The Democrats will not fund border security, our safety, our national security. People come from many countries.
When I was at the wall the other day, Border Patrol said they have 150 people they caught that day who weren’t from Mexico. I said, “That’s a strange statement.” They said, “No, these are the people that weren’t from Mexico.” And I was surprised. Three were from Pakistan. Four were from another Mid-East — two Mid-East countries. And many of them were from other countries, including China — countries all over the world. A hundred and fifty of the people, as he said, were not from Mexico. Now, they caught many, many more, but that’s a 150 people coming from companies that — you know, really, countries that you wouldn’t believe.
They will not approve the measures we need to keep America safe — the Democrats. We can’t do that. We can’t do that because this is of paramount importance to our country. And again, I could take it nice and easy. I could enjoy myself. I could relax. I’ve been in the White House because I think it’s very important to be there. And other people went on a nice, wonderful vacation over the weekend. They had a great time. I would have loved to have been with them. I didn’t like the look of it. I would have loved to have been with them. But we have a very big problem.
This should have been done by other Presidents. Just like the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem should have been done — it was promised by many other Presidents. (Applause.)
Just like we’re doing the job on North Korea, just like we’re doing the job with China — we’re getting it done. We’re getting it done. We’re getting it all done. But it would have been nice if other administrations were able to do it. But we have to do the border.
In the meantime, the USDA is doing everything in its power to help farmers deal with the ongoing shutdown. We thank you for your support and patriotism. And we fight to defend our nation. We are fighting very hard to defend our nation.
And many people that aren’t getting a payment, that aren’t being paid, have let us know in the strongest of terms — a big amount — they said, “Sir, what you’re doing is of paramount importance. Do the job right, and we are with you, 100 percent.” You’d be surprised at how many people have said that. And it’s not easy for them, but it’s a lot of people. (Applause.)
So I’m asking all of our citizens to call your Democrat lawmakers and ask them to pass a bill that secures our border, protects our country, and now reopens our government. Because as soon as they do that, we reopen our government. You would think that would be a very simple task.
On every front, we are fighting for our great farmers, our ranchers, our growers. We are fixing broken trade deals that are horrible. I saw what was going on in Canada — the way you were treated. Horrible. And they treated their farmers great. Great. We changed it with the new trade deal we made with Mexico and Canada.
And opening up new markets to export — many, many new markets are being opened up. We’ve eliminated a record number of job-killing regulations. And the farmers got hit probably as hard as anybody.
We’re reversing harmful federal intrusion. And to keep family farms in the family, we have virtually eliminated the estate tax, also known as the “death tax.” (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
Small business owners and corporations and others — small business — it was a terrible thing that was happening, where your parents — you love your parents — they’re farmers — they love their farms. Everybody loves their farm. The kids — they want to grow up on the farm. They want to someday run the farm, own the farm. And they couldn’t because they had very large estate taxes to pay. So they go out and borrow money, and then it turned a little bit bad. And all of the sudden, they’d end up losing the farm because they had to pay the estate tax. We got rid of it, folks.
So if you love your children, you’ll like me. If you don’t love your children, and you weren’t going to leave the farm to them, it probably doesn’t matter too much, okay? (Laughter.) Does anybody here not love their children? Wow, that’s a lot of people — not one? Okay, you don’t want to say. That’s all right. (Laughter.)
That’s like a lot of the people that went to the polls; they voted for Trump. (Laughter.) They said, “We don’t want to talk about it.” Then we won. We won two years ago. In November, we won. (Applause.) And everybody is trying — they’re still trying to figure out what happened. We don’t have to talk about it. We know what we’re doing.
We’re ensuring that ethanol remains a vital part of America’s energy future, with E-15. And we’re making it available year round — all 12 months. That was a big, big difference for the farmers. (Applause.)
Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst — your senators — a lot of great people were very strong on that. And it also creates additional, because, if you noticed, I think we saw $1.75 for gasoline today, coming in. I like to do that; I’m one of these guys. (Applause.) I’m riding in this incredible car, and I’m driving, and I’m looking at gas stations to see how much is the gas. How many other Presidents — you think Hillary Clinton would have done that? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. (Laughter and applause.)
I’m in the Beast — the world’s most expensive car. It’s like being in an army tank that goes 50 miles an hour, right? I’m in the Beast and I’m looking at gas stations. I say, “Fellas, slow up. I can’t see.” (Laughter.) They say, “$1.75.” That didn’t happen by accident, folks. That didn’t happen by accident. People think it does; it doesn’t. Nothing happens — very few, very little happens by accident.
Nobody else would have done what we did for the farmers, with the estate taxes and so many other things.
In the two years before my election, agricultural exports dropped by nearly $23 billion. Remember that: Before I got here, it was heading south. A lot of people say, “Oh, gee, how are we doing?” It was going bad. If you go back 15 years, soybeans were more expensive 15 years ago than when I got into office. They were less. Now they’re up nearly $14 billion.
In December, just a few days before Christmas, I was proud to sign the Farm Bill. We got it done. That wasn’t easy either. (Applause.) That was not easy. Senators, Congressmen, thank you. That group did it. (Applause.) That was not an easy one, John and Bill, was it, huh? That wasn’t easy.
But we got it done. The first to be passed, on time, in over 30 years. Got it done. And I’ve authorized Secretary Perdue to be strong on work rules for the Food Stamp program, through regulations allowed by the bill. So I know you have a great Secretary. He’ll do what’s right.
The Farm Bill delivers for our farmers on a wide range of key priorities. On critical farm programs, such as crop insurance, you will have the support you need to plan for the future. It increases the amount farmers can borrow so you can expand and improve your businesses.
It also secures the $600 million commitment we made to build a modern, effective, rural broadband across America’s heartland. You’re not well serviced. (Applause.) That’s something the great, great middle part of our country has been complaining about for a long time. You’re not properly serviced. You will be now. You will be now. That bill is a great bill for the farmer.
Last year, when I spoke to you, we had just passed our historic tax cuts. Here with us today is Kalena Bruce from Stockton, Missouri. Kalena is a rancher, and also an accountant for local farmers. Under our new tax plan, which lowers rates for small businesses and doubles the tax child credit — so important, that child tax credit. You know who fought for that? A young woman named Ivanka Trump. That’s all she wanted. “Dad? Dad? We have to get that passed, Dad.” (Applause.) I said, “Okay, Ivanka. Okay. Okay.” (Laughter.) It turned out to be so popular.
Kalena has seen that many families will save upwards of $4,000 in taxes this year alone. Kalena, I want to thank you and all of those incredible people that you represent. And just keep up the great work. Where is Kalena? Where is Kalena? She’s around here someplace. Hi, Kalena. Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
We’re also leading the most sweeping regulatory reform at any time in our history. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled back almost $400 million in regulatory costs last year alone. And this year, they’re projected to more than double those savings.
We’re saving farmers and ranchers from one of the most ridiculous regulations ever imposed on anybody in our nation: the Waters of the United States rule. (Applause.) Disaster — other than the title. Such a beautiful title. It was a total kill on farmers, on builders, on everybody. It was a total kill. Sounds so nice.
In fact, I looked at John Kennedy, when I signed that. I said, “John, I’m going to get killed for this one.” Because what we did was take something — the “Water of the United States.” How beautiful is that? And yet, everything inside was a total kill on you — and other businesses, by the way. (Applause.)
And we didn’t get killed, did we, John, huh? We didn’t. They love it. So many people have come — and, you know, the time when I signed that bill, I had ranchers, farmers, and some homebuilders behind me. And these are tough people. They were strong, tough men and women. And half of them were crying because we basically — our government stole their property. They couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t build. They couldn’t do anything.
They were crying. I said, “What are you crying about?” The one guy — I don’t think he cried in his whole life. I don’t think he cried when we was a baby. He was crying. (Laughter.) He said, “Sir, you gave me back my life. You gave me back my property. They took it away — environmentally, took it away. And you’re going to do the right thing.”
In the audience today is Val Wagner from Monango, North Dakota. Val — (applause). (Laughs.) It’s a good place. (Laughter.) You have a great new senator, by the way. (Applause.) A great new senator. Really great. Val and her husband would love to expand their farm for their four boys, but under the Waters of the United States rule, they would have to pay tens and of thousands of dollars in fines because of the “prairie potholes” on their land. Do you all know what “prairie potholes” are? Yes, you do. I don’t, but it sounds bad. (Laughter.)
To Val and to every farmer, we are going to keep federal regulators out of your — out of your tanks — your stock tanks, your drainage ditches, your puddles, and your ponds. And you know exactly what I’m talking about. You could have a pond — a little pond — and they consider it a lake. (Applause.) And you’re regulated as though it were a lake.
We’re going to get government off your backs so you can earn a living and support your families doing what you love. And I know what you love. Farmers love what they’re doing. (Applause.)
We also passed legislation to rebuild our water infrastructure, including our nation’s inland waterways, which carry more than 60 percent of our agricultural products.
We are replacing one-sided, unfair trade deals. We have so many nations — it’s a one-sided deal. With China, every year, for many years, we’re losing $375 billion — not million, billion dollars. We’re working on that very strongly. You see what’s going on. We’re doing very well.
We have the European Union — they don’t treat us right. They treat our farmers terribly. You can hardly sell into the — they have barriers and they have tariffs that are massive. But with the farmers, they don’t want your product. We’re working with them; they have to treat us fairly. We’re losing $151 billion a year with the European Union.
It sounds so nice, right? “The European Union.” And then the press gets angry. They say, “Donald Trump is not treating the European Union fairly.” Well, that’s because they’re not treating us fairly, folks.
I want to be nice. In fact, they said my poll numbers are very bad in Europe. I said, “They should be.” (Laughter.) No, seriously. They said, “When he started off, he had 87 percent.” That means you could be the king of any country. Now, they (inaudible) because I’m representing our country; I’m not representing those country — you know, one of those (inaudible). (Applause.) True.
It’s true. They said, “His poll numbers have tanked.” And I said, “Oh, damn it. What’s going on? Damn it.” And then I said, “Oh, it’s in Europe. That’s okay.” (Laughter.)
No, we get along well with them. And they’re a lot of great people and great leaders. But, look, I’m not blaming them. I don’t blame China. I mean, China — $375 billion a year, we lose. It’s really more than that, but that’s like the conservative number. I think it’s $504 [billion]. But I’m giving you conservative because I don’t want to be criticized for using wrong numbers, right? (Laughter.)
But I don’t blame China. I was in China making a speech, and President Xi — who’s a friend of — great guy. But he represent them; I represent us. And he’s sitting over here. And I’m talking to this massive crowd of people. And I’m talking about how China is bad, bad, bad. And I’m saying, “Boy, this is — this could be dangerous.” (Laughter.) I’m in China. I’m in Beijing doing this. And I’m saying, “I don’t like this.”
But I looked at him, and I realized — actually during that speech — it’s not his fault or their fault. It’s our fault for allowing that to happen. It’s our leaders’ fault. (Applause.)
Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen a continual decline in the U.S. share of agricultural trade all throughout the world. You know that. It was all going in the wrong direction. It’s changing now. Wait until you see what happens. If we do the right deal with China, you’re talking about massive — they’re already backordering, right? They’re already back. I told them. I said, “You got to start ordering. You’re going to order.” They’re going to order, and they’ve already started.
We’re turning all of that around with fair trade deals that put American farmers, ranchers, and, in fact, put America first. That’s what I’m interested in: America first. (Applause.)
We just opened Argentina to American pork exports — pork — for the first time in a quarter of a century. They needed something; I said, “You have to open it up to pork.” And they said, “Okay.” I said, “Why didn’t you do it before?” They said, “Nobody ever asked us.” (Laughter.) A lot of it is that. You would be amazed. Nobody ever asks.
India and Morocco have both opened their markets to our poultry exports. We do so much for them. It’s incredible.
Japan opened its market to U.S. exports of potatoes from Idaho — (applause) — and lamb from the great state of Texas, yes. No, they just opened up. We asked them. We said, “You got to open up. Sorry.”
U.S. beef has been shipped to Brazil for the first time since 2003. They’re going to have a great new leader. They say he’s the Donald Trump of South America. Do you believe that? (Applause.) And he’s happy with that. If he wasn’t, I wouldn’t like the country so much. But I like him.
And we opened China to American beef for the first time in many, many years. We’ve taken — (applause). You know that. But that was before the trade deal. Don’t even worry about it. This is — that’s peanuts compared to what we’re talking about.
We’ve taken the toughest-ever actions to confront China’s unfair trade practices that hurt American farmers and ranchers. This includes China’s theft of trade secrets from American agri-business. I couldn’t believe how complicated your business is — with the seeds and the genetic farming. It’s incredible. People don’t know this. But your secrets were being stolen by China, and, in all fairness, other countries.
We want a fair deal for American farmers — removing China’s arbitrary bans on agricultural imports, safeguarding our intellectual property, and providing fair market access to all American producers.
We have also made history by finalizing an agreement to replace the horrible NAFTA with a brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, called the “USMCA.” A whole different world. A whole different world. (Applause.) NAFTA was one of the worst trade deals ever made by a country. It killed our country.
This landmark trade deal will increase exports of wheat from Montana, dairy from Wisconsin, chicken from Georgia, and products from farmers and ranchers all across our country.
As part of the USMCA, Canada agreed to give fair treatment to American wheat farmers. They will now grade American wheat just like they grade their own wheat. (Applause.) Which, to me, doesn’t mean much, but, to farmers, it means a lot. That’s what they tell me. I said, “What can we do?” They said that would be a big thing — on wheat.
Even the NFL — you know, the NFL, for many years, was having a hard time with Canada, having to do with the Super Bowl. I heard about it, and I asked about it. And it was a lot of money, but it was tiny compared to the overall deal with Canada and with Mexico. So, as one of the things, I said, “You got to treat the NFL fairly.” You know, it’s a great American company. And we had the dispute over the National Anthem, and that seems to have worked out properly, which is great, which I give them credit for now.
And I said, “Listen, when you go to Canada, you’re going to ask for this thing because they’re not treating our company right.” Any company — I don’t care, but that was the NFL. A big company. A great American company. I said, “You’re not treating them well.” We asked for it; in one minute, we solved a problem that they’ve been working on for many years. Total success. And they called up, and they thanked me. But it’s something that I want to do for American companies. It’s easy, it’s short, it took a few minutes, and we got it. They were fighting for years.
Canada also agreed to end unfair trade practices that hurt American dairy exports.
Also here today are Cris and Gary Peterson, and their son Ben and daughter-in-law Nicki. More than 140 years ago, Gary’s great-grandmother began their farm in a tremendous state — I love this state. Remember when they say, “Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin”? That state hasn’t been won by a Republican in so long. Bill, you don’t remember any wins there, right? That was a long time ago. That was even before your time. Right, Bill? A long time. And they said, “Donald Trump…” Remember that? Was that a great evening or what? “Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin.” (Applause.) We love Wisconsin.
Today, the Petersons have more than 900 dairy cows. Like so many of our great farmers, the Petersons have faced a number of threats to their farm and to their entire way of life.
For years, NAFTA made it difficult for dairy farmers like the Petersons to export milk, ice cream, cheese, and many other dairy products. Under the USMCA, the Peterson family will finally have the level playing field that they should have had for many years. They have it now.
Together, we urge Congress to support American agriculture, stand up for American workers, and hopefully they will approve the USMCA quite quickly.
You know, the one thing I worry about — it’s almost — no matter how good something is, they might not want to approve it, but they’ll approve it. This one — I think it’s going to be very tough for them not. But I think that — I hear it’s in very good shape. And it replaces something that has been so bad to our country. This is a great deal.
As we reverse the damage of decades of unfair trade, we are also providing up to $12 billion in relief to protect our farmers from unfair foreign retaliation. And you saw that recently with Sonny Perdue, where we were helping out during a very unfair period of time when people were actually trying to affect our election. Nobody brings that up. In this case, it was China. I haven’t heard too much about that. Have you heard anything about that? But they were. And we helped our farmers out.
No one understands better than our great farmers that the tough choices we make today reap rewards for centuries to come.
More than 200 years ago, this very city was at the center of America’s negotiations during the legendary Louisiana Purchase.
No one knew how it would all turn out, but President Thomas Jefferson acted decisively for the American people. After months of negotiations, we got what no one ever imagined possible. Not only did we gain New Orleans, we doubled the size of the United States; we secured new parts and ports — new parts of the map and globe that we never thought, and new ports, very importantly for American agriculture; and we made our nation the greatest farm country on God’s Earth. And it remains that. And it’s now, for the first time in a long time, getting better. (Applause.)
Our nation was founded, settled, and built by farmers. (Applause.) From the fields of Pennsylvania to the hills of Tennessee — (applause); from the plains of Missouri — (applause) — to the Big Sky of Montana — (applause); and from the marshes of Florida — (applause) — to the fertile valley of California — (applause) — farmers have always led the way. (Applause.)
The American farmer embodies the timeless values of America. You believe in hard work and self-reliance. You follow the rules, obey our laws, and respect our great American flag. (Applause.) You support our communities, raise loving families, teach your children right from wrong, and you are always loyal to this magnificent nation that we so love.
Now you have a government that is loyal to you, finally, in return. (Applause.) Because we know that government’s first duty is to our own citizens.
We are fighting for the American farmer, and we are fighting for the American Dream, and for products made and grown with pride right here in the USA. It’s what we’re fighting for. (Applause.)
We are defending a cherished legacy, and we are preserving a beautiful way of life passed down from mothers and fathers to sons and daughters, from generation to generation. You are the keepers of this noble tradition. You are the guardians of this majestic heritage.
We are standing up for the men and women who work the fields, till the soil, and harvest the land. We are protecting your rights, your freedoms, and our glorious Constitution.
And we are doing it all with love in our hearts, joy in our souls, and trust in our God. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
To all of the farmers here today and across our country, the greatest harvest is yet to come. The future for America’s farmers is bigger, better, bolder, and brighter than ever before.
I just want to thank you all for being here. I’m so honored to have had this kind of a turnout, this kind of a record. I want to thank the American Farm Bureau for the incredible job they do. I’m proud to be a great friend of the farmer, of the rancher, of the people who so nobly do what you do.
God bless you all. God bless our farmers. God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
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