February 19, 2020
3:00 P.M. PST
THE PRESIDENT: Hi, Chloe. Hi, Chloe. Hi. Hi, Chloe.
Well, I want to thank you. And before we begin, I want to just say that —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, President Trump!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
It’s a great, great place. You have great people on the stage with me. I want to tell you — warriors, fighters. And they love the country. They love our country.
I want to just start, though, by saying two brave firemen, as you know, died last night in Porterville. And we just want to pay our respects to them. I heard they were two great people with incredible families, and I just want to pay my respects to their families and friends.
That’s a tough job. We just met some of the firemen backstage. It’s a tough and dangerous job, and the country respects that profession very much. We just want you to all know that. They really respect you a lot. (Applause.) And you can add the words “law enforcement” to that group. Nobody respected more than those groups of people. (Applause.) I can tell you that. So, thank you very much. Thank you very much to the families. Thank you very much.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Estamos contigo (inaudible)! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And we’re doing well with you. Thank you. (Laughter.) We just had a poll that says we’re doing very well. Thank you. That’s great. Appreciate it. We love you, too.
And I want to thank Kevin. And hello to Bakersfield. I’ve heard a lot about Bakersfield. (Applause.) Didn’t you have a great tennis player, years ago, named Dennis Ralston? Right?
THE PRESIDENT: Right? That’s — he was a great player. He was really great. Is he still around? I hope. Is he? I don’t know. Somebody will let me know. But he was a great player.
I’m thrilled to be here today as we take historic action on behalf of our incredible farmers and ranchers, growers, and communities throughout the Central Valley — (applause) — and all across the great state of California. What they’re doing to your state is a disgrace. (Applause.)
After decades of failure and delays in ensuring critical water access for the people of this state, we are determined to finally get your problem solved. The state is not doing anything to help, but hopefully they will eventually come along.
Now that they’re rationing water for people, they’re saying you’re going to get, very shortly — I heard the governor saying you get 50 gallons. Fifty gallons sounds okay. People tell me it’s like nothing. By the time you do with your showers, and your hands, and your tissues, and everything, 50 gallons is very, very little. Can you imagine a state being rationed, when you have millions and millions and millions of gallons being poured out into the Pacific Ocean that you could have? And you’d have more water than knew what to do with. It’s crazy. (Applause.) Crazy. Crazy.
So we’re honored to be joined by a warrior — a real warrior named Devin Nunes. (Applause.) And, Elizabeth, thank you, because you have to put up with it, Elizabeth — wherever you may be. But Mrs. Nunes is here, and she’s a fantastic woman. And — but Devin has been, from day one, from the day I met him.
And, you know, this all started because I was driving up — what was the highway, Devin, that we were driving by?
REPRESENTATIVE NUNES: Ninety-nine.
THE PRESIDENT: Ninety-nine. Does everyone know 99? (Applause.)
And I kept saying, “Devin, why are these fields all brown and they look like desert?” They look like they were starved. It’s too bad you have a drought. And then I’d see little patches of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen. And then I’d go to the next and I’d see acres and acres of brown, really dry, horrible-looking stuff. And then I’d see a patch of the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen. I said, “What’s going on? It’s too bad you have a drought.” He said, “No, we don’t have a drought. They won’t allow us to have water in the state of California.” That’s how this all started.
Believe it or not, that’s how I really got to know Devin Nunes. Then he became a hero because he found out what was going on in government — (applause) — and he found out about the hoax and the witch hunt, and all of the horrible things that have gone on.
But we got over the fact that I said, “Boy, that’s a beautiful area, but why is everything else barren?” And it’s because of water. You send millions and millions of gallons out. And we have now given full permission that you don’t do that anymore. We have given — and the hard — the hard permits were, by the way, the federal permits. The state could do this with a flick of the governor’s hand. And we hope that he’s going to do it because it makes so much sense.
But I want to thank Devin for being an incredible warrior. And, likewise, Kevin McCarthy — (applause) — who I think we can say — I mean, we have to work hard. We can pick up seven seats in the state of California. (Applause.) Seven seats.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Get rid of Pelosi!
THE PRESIDENT: And I want to thank —
(Laughs.) He said, “Get rid of Pelosi.” That’s okay with me. (Applause.) A lot of people agree. Look what’s happened to San Francisco. So sad what’s happened. When you see a slum — where it’s a slum. It’s worse than a slum. There’s no slum like that. What they’ve done to San Francisco is a crying shame. And it’s something that we’re going to do something about, because if they don’t fix up, clean it up, take care of the homeless, do what they have to do, but clean up their city, the federal government is going to have step in. We’re going to do it in Los Angeles and San Francisco. (Applause.)
And I want to thank Judy because she has to put up with these long hours that he works. Where is Judy?
LEADER MCCARTHY: She’s right over here. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Judy. Thank you, Elizabeth. Thank you both. What you have to put up with. Long hours. But, you know, the people appreciate it. They really appreciate it. Because there’s nobody doing a better job than these guys. And, really, the two of you. (Applause.)
You also have somebody here who’s another warrior. He’s a warrior in the waiting. He’s been successful all his life, and he’s running for the 21st congressional district: David Valadao. (Applause.) He is an incredible — he is an incredible guy. And I think — I’m hearing you’re doing great. But always pretend you’re about one point down. (Laughter.) Right? But you’re not going to have to worry about it. He’s going to be fantastic. We really need him badly in Washington. (Applause.) So, hopefully, you’ll be sending him there. Thank you, David. Good luck, David.
And where is Markwayne? Markwayne Mullin. Come on up, Mark. Come on up.
PARTICIPANT: That’s Jim. Jim.
THE PRESIDENT: And his son, Jim, who’s a great wrestler, who’s a great athlete. Markwayne, thank you very much. (Appause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build that wall!
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, the wall is being built. You know, we’re up to 122 miles. (Applause.) A hundred and twenty-two miles. And you’d think that money — that was not easy. But we got the money, and we’re building it. And we won a lot of cases in court. We were sued all the way along the line. And we’re up to 122 miles. In a very short time, we’ll be over 500 miles. It’s already had a tremendous impact. So, the wall is moving along. (Applause.)
But I want to thank you and Jim. Thank you very much. Stay up here, okay? Because I’m going to be signing a very important legislation — a piece of legislation that is going to give you a lot of water and a lot of dam and a lot of everything. (Applause.) And you’ll be able to farm your land and you’ll be able to do things that you never thought possible.
And it is true though, I think, Devin, you can say: I really — look, I’ll never forget. It’s so bad. I said, “Gee, it’s so bad. I never knew the drought was so bad.” He looked at me like, “What are you talking about? There’s no drought. We have so much water we don’t know what to do with it.” And this would take care of Los Angeles. It would take care of everything. You’d have more water than you knew what to do. You wouldn’t have to be rationing water. And it’s just absolutely insane. So, hopefully, the governor will get his act together and you’ll get this done. (Applause.)
I also want to thank — we have many, many state and local officials with us, including our — a lot of the law enforcement, the firemen — finer men and women. And we appreciate it all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
A man who is — been great is David Bernhardt. And he’s working with you. But I have to say that I’ve been watching another warrior, Tom McClintock. (Applause.) And he — I’d call Devin, I’d see him on television. There’s nobody that represented us during the impeachment hoax — there’s nobody that represented us better. I said, “That guy could represent me any day.” He was tough and strong. That face was good-looking, I have to say. (Laughter.) In the “Me Too” generation, we don’t talk about looks anymore. But he’s a good-looking guy. (Laughter.)
Where’s Tom? Tom McClintock, come here. (Applause.) He was fantastic. But we do. We have some great fighters.
And with us today is Secretary David Bernhardt, a very important man in terms of what we’re talking about. (Applause.) And David’s leadership has been incredible on this subject. You know, we’re talking about something that will change this whole area. Actually change — if you think about it, Kevin, it’s going to change the whole state, if we can do this. (Applause.)
And it’s an easy word, but it’s a very complicated word, when you think of it. It’s called “water.” We need water in this state, and you have so much water you don’t know what to do with it. And this is the man that’s going to help us.
So, David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior, please say a few words. (Applause.) David.
SECRETARY BERNHARDT: Good afternoon. It should be obvious to everyone in government and to the American people that when President Trump gives clear direction, he expects us to hit our target. And in the fall of 2018, the President directed the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to address the challenges facing the folks in the Valley and throughout the West relating to water operations.
And to do that, we assembled a wonderful team, including Commissioner Brenda Burman, the first female commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Aurelia Skipwith, the first African American female director of the Fish and Wildlife Service; and led by Paul Souza, a career SES executive. We have come up with a plan, changing our operations, to use real-time monitoring, better technology, and provide more efficient utilization of water so it won’t be wasted.
And that is just the beginning. (Applause.) And it’s because of this congressional delegation, bringing this to the attention of the President, and the President saying, “Let’s get it done.” (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Come on up, David. Come on up. You’re going to be a congressman soon, so let’s get him up here. Come on, David. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
So as a candidate for President, I promised to help solve the water crisis that was crippling our farmers due to the chronic mismanagement and misguided policies. And that’s what it is: misguided policies and management.
For too long, authorities have needlessly flushed millions and millions of gallons of fresh, beautiful clean water from up north, straight into the Pacific Ocean. It’s nothing for the Pacific Ocean. You know what it means? Like nothing. We’re talking about the Pacific. (Laughter.) I think they think we’re helping the Pacific. It’s like a drop. It’s like a drop. But it can help us to a level that nobody can believe. On the basis of old science, obsolete studies, and overbearing regulations that had not been updated in many, many years, and sometimes for decades.
The resulting miscalculation and misallocation of water helped turn natural droughts into manmade catastrophes. I mean, it’s really a catastrophe, when you think. You have farmers that own land that are paying taxes on the land that aren’t allowed to farm your land. They’re actually taking away your land, if you think about it. (Applause.) And that’s the state — because, the federal government, we’ve done our part. That was supposed to be the hard part. We get it done fast. Commerce worked fantastically with you, David. I know that. Right? We got it done fast.
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.)
To confront this problem, in 2018 I ordered the administration to update the outdated scientific research and biological opinions that helped to determine water allocation right here in the state of California. In other words, how much water is available for agricultural producers, communities, for all of the people that live in your great state.
Well, a lot of people speak badly of your state. I love your state. I understand your state. You have the potential like no place else, but you need the right government. You need the right governor. (Applause.) You need the right governor. (Inaudible) so much.
You know, I was explaining on the way in: cars. You could build a car for $3,500 less. It would take a tiny bit more — just a glass of fuel more. But that would take many cars off the road because people would be able to buy many cars that are obsolete that are what they call “gas guzzlers.” The new car would be safer because it would not be made out of papier-mâché, because it would be allowed to be a little bit heavier. It would be a little stronger. It would be safer. It would cost you $3,500 less. And because of your rules and regulations in California, it will end up in a court case with your governor. It’s so crazy. We’re already in a court case over a train. Over a train.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Billions and billions and billions of dollars. It was originally supposed to go from San Francisco to LA. That didn’t work out, so now they did this in order to get the cost down. It keeps getting — pretty soon, it’ll be like a mile long. (Laughter.) Okay? It’s very sad when you see some of the things.
But think about the car situation. In other words, you’ll get a less expensive car by $3,500 on average that will be safer, that will look better, and that will work better. And you’ll get a lot of gas guzzlers off the wor- — of the market because people are going to be able to afford, and they’re going to want this car because it’s a better car. And we’re going to have to fight it out in court, but we’ll win. We always win. (Applause.)
Today, I’m pleased to announce that this update is complete. We’ve done the full complete update on water and water allocation. A major obstacle to providing more water for the region’s farmers has now been totally eliminated by the federal government. I mean, the federal government is very tough to deal with. We get it done very quickly. And at the request of Devin and Kevin and — this works out well: Devin and Kevin. (Laughter.) But they’re very similar people. They’re tough.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
But we got it done, and we got it done fast. And you also worked with some of the other congressmen and women. We had a lot of our — a lot of help from a lot of the women that worked with us. And I’ll tell you, we’re very proud of the job we did. Now we can do it very quickly if we can get the state to move. And you can take away the water allocation for people to 50 gallon going down to 42, 43 gallon. Throw it out the window; you don’t have to worry about it anymore. What a difference that would be. Right? (Applause.)
Going forward, we’ll use the latest science and most advanced technology to monitor and adjust water distribution in real time, ensuring that the environment remains protected while directing as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount — a massive amount of water — for the use of California farmers and ranchers and all of these communities that are suffering from a lack of water. You can’t water your grass; we don’t have the water. And yet, you look and you see the millions and millions of gallons being just wasted and poured into the great ocean.
We want to make sure that you get the water that you really are paying for by being citizens and paying taxes and all of the things that you do. You deserve water, and you have the water. (Applause.) There are communities that don’t have water. You have the water. This is an easy one.
Here with us today is Jenny Holtermann, a fourth-generation almond farmer from right here in Kern County. Jenny, please come up and say a few words. Jenny? (Applause.) Where is Jenny? Come on up, Jenny.
MS. HOLTERMANN: Thank you, President Trump. I’m proud to be a fourth-generation California farmer married to a fellow fourth-generation California farmer. I was raised by strong parents who showed me the farming lifestyle, taught me the importance of conserving our resources and the necessity of water to grow our food.
Today, it is not uncommon to find three generations on our family farm daily. However, because of the uncertainty of water deliveries, I’m worried that we may not have a family farm to pass down to my children, or my niece or nephew.
As an almond farmer, we can’t just fallow acres in years with less water. Orchards require consistent irrigation, and without a reliable water supply, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland could be taken out of production of California’s Central Valley. Families like mine could be forced to abandon orchards or sell a family farm.
We are an industry of families, and we do not farm the same way that generations before us did. Using new science and technology, almond farmers today use 33 percent less water than they did 20 years ago. Our water infrastructure should be handled the same way: using updated science and new infrastructure to keep water flowing to families and family farms across our state.
I want to thank our President for cutting regulations and supporting the American farmer. (Applause.) President Trump is fighting for farmers with our best interest in mind, and he was working to bring water back to the Central Valley. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Jenny. And, you know, Jenny reminded me of something. So, as you know, for businesses, small businesses, and farms and some small farms — most all small firms — we got rid of the estate tax or the “death tax,” as they call it. (Applause.) So —
So, now, all signed, all done. Part of our tax cuts. So, now, if you love your children — and there are some people that don’t. (Laughter.) And if you don’t love your children, this doesn’t matter so much. Don’t listen. But if you love your children, it’s nice that they don’t have to mortgage the farm, is the expression. You know the words “mortgage…” (Applause.) They’re going to mortgage the farm and then they’re going to lose the farm.
So if you love your children, you have no estate tax to pay, you have no death tax to pay. So you can look down at your children and say they’re doing a nice job or they’re doing a lousy job, but at least they won’t be having to go out to the banks and mortgage the farm — a very well-known term — because it never worked out too well. So you have no more estate tax to pay on your farm when you leave it to your children. (Applause.) I think that’s a big point.
It doesn’t pertain to water, but probably it does, right? Because the farm is going to be a lot more valuable if we can pull this off. A lot more valuable. And if we do, it’s because of the people right here.
Also joining us is Matt Fisher, a local citrus farmer. Matt, please come up. Matt. (Applause.) Thank you, Matt.
MR. FISHER: Thank you, Mr. President. I vividly recall the day that you were elected. That day gave my family and I such a tremendous feeling of hope and optimism about our future in agriculture.
Farming here in the state of California isn’t the easiest, and every day since you’ve been in office, you’ve done exactly what you promised. (Applause.) You came to California and sought to understand our water issues. You listened to the right people, put a plan in place, selected the right people, assigned a deadline, and got it done. (Applause.)
These biological opinions and the balance that they will bring to the water that falls on this state will bring certainty not only to my family and our employees, but several other families that farm here in the state of California. They are based on sound science and will help the Bureau of Reclamation maximize water to not only family farms, but rural communities and the environment.
Your leadership on updating these biological opinions will bring significant relief to my family and will save literally thousands upon thousands of acres of citrus from being left to die.
So thank you again, sir, for keeping your word and following through to help us here in the San Joaquin Valley. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Matt. And you have to know that this meeting, Kevin was just saying, was set up long before — Devin and Kevin set it up long before we heard that Mini Mike hates the farmer. Long before we learned about his hatred of the farmer, disrespect of the farmer.
So I don’t know — I don’t think he’s going to be the candidate anyway, to be honest with you. We’ll have to start working on Crazy Bernie pretty soon. (Applause.)
But it was set up a long time before that. We just found this out about two days ago.
On top of regulatory failures, California has not built any major water storage infrastructure since 1979, even as the state’s population has increased by nearly 70 percent. Think of that. In the past decade, the cost of water increased by 127 percent in San Francisco alone and over 70 percent in Los Angeles. And you can’t even get it. Hundreds of thousands of acres of once-beautiful green farmland became bone dry.
In our reforms — and what we’ve done is, in place of — one year ago, actually, we estimated that our farmers would have received enough water to support up to 850,000 additional acres of crops. Think of that. That’s a lot of acres. And over 130,000 minimum — over 130,000 jobs.
With today’s actions, we will help bring farmland back to life. All of the land that I talked about before will be green and beautiful. (Applause.)
You know, they say that — they say that this part of the world has among the best land in the world to farm. Right? (Applause.) I’ve heard it from a lot of people. And it’s a massive amount we don’t talk — it’s a massive amount of money, but it’s got — and you see that in those little patches. You say, “Wow.” But it needs water.
Larry Starrh is another farmer who will benefit by today’s actions. Larry, please come up and share with us your story. Please, Larry. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. STARRH: Oh, wow. Thank you. What a great honor this is to have you in our home, Mr. President. (Applause.)
So, water for us is everything. Water is the beginning, it’s the middle, and the end. Without it — without water, we have nothing. It’s just the end.
I farm with my brother Fred and my brother-in-law Jay Kroeker, and, until recently, my father, Fred Starrh, senior.
My sons, nephews, nieces are involved as well. And, like everyone, water is the most critical part of our existence. It is, in fact, our lifeblood. And like blood, how it is treated, maintained, and pumped is the single most important factor in our existence.
Our farm has been forced to idle thousands of producing acres due to the uncertainty of our lifeblood, reduced water allocations year after year due to environmental takings, old science, questionable management, and increased regulations.
We pay for water we don’t get. Still, we see more water taking out of the system. We see more ground being idled.
I can tell you that the — what the end looks like, and come out to my ranch and I’ll show you what it looks like. We have considered selling the farm — prior to the last presidential election, in fact. Even my dad, who lived and breathed our farm, seriously contemplated selling out.
We thought, at the time, if President Trump’s opponent had won, we would sell for sure. However, that did not happen. (Applause.) And you — and you were elected, Mr. President. And after that, if we even mentioned selling, my dad would go ballistic. He would say, “Not now.” He said, “President Trump is going to get things done.” He said, “He’s our hope.” (Applause.) Yeah.
And it’s a fact, Mr. President. You have got things done, and you have indeed revived our hope.
I heard you saying to Larry, four years ago, the California water situation is ridiculous. And you said, “There will be water. There will be plenty of it. We can turn it around.” I have that on my phone still. (Laughter.) That is a promise made and a promise kept. (Applause.)
I know that we have had water warriors fighting for us for a long time, working hard for us, fighting for these new regulations that are based on best science, using real-time conditions in the Delta, maximizing Delta water exports, while protecting threatened or endangered species in the Delta and protecting the environment. That is a win-win. Right?
Congressman McCarthy, I just want to thank you for your leadership and your friendship. And, Congressman Nunes, same thing. And I know David was involved earlier, and Congressman McClintock. We just — you know, these people were working on this before. And they were working and — you know, I want to mention also Ernie — Ernest Conant and Paul Souza, who were intricately involved with making these changes. (Applause.)
But they have been working on these issues for a long time and they were looking for traction. They were looking for some kind of change. And I can tell you, traction was found in 2016 when President Donald Trump was elected. (Applause.)
People have said to me, “No, no, he’s not why. It’s timing. It’s dumb luck. It’s blah, blah, blah, blah.”
AUDIENCE: Booo —
MR. STARRH: Yeah. Well, I’m no expert, and I know a certain Democratic presidential candidate who says farmers need more “gray matter.” You know that. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
MR. STARRH: But this ain’t rocket science. The reason we’re seeing these new rules implemented are because of President Donald Trump. (Applause.) And I want to publicly thank you, sir, and ask you to please keep fighting for us. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Larry. He could be running for politics one of these days. Right? I’ll tell you, he could do — he could do a job. All of you, thank you very much. That was fantastic.
But it’s so easy. It’s common sense. You know, Larry just said it’s common sense. And it is common sense. And all we need is a governor and — we can be nice to them. We can be rough with them. We can do whatever we have to do. I’d love to be nice to them. It’s all common sense. Remember I said, “forest management.” You don’t need all these forest fires. It’s management. I said, “forest management.” (Applause.)
It’s the same thing here. This is even easier. This is even easier. Just have the valve go in a little different direction. Okay? (Laughter.) This one is easy. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t do it. Someday you’ll explain to me politically why that’s good that you’re rationing water when you have so much water.
And it is — it’s different if you had a drought. You don’t have a drought. You have tremendous amounts of water. So maybe we can get the governor to come along and really be friendly on this one, and get it done.
Huge numbers too. Forgetting about human lives, forgetting about businesses, this is tremendous amounts of money coming to the state, coming to the farmers. Your farmers would be doing much more business. You’d be — somebody said it would be the longest farm area anywhere in the world, if we allowed you to have the water to irrigate and to give you a little — you need the water. You need water. It’s real. It’s really simple. (Applause.)
And you have the water. You just need a signature. You’re going to have one today. (Applause.) And that was the tough one. Right, Tom? That was the tough one. The tough one was this one. The tough one to get was the federal government, but you got that. And you really had it a couple of months ago, but you have it today officially.
So, from the beginning, the Trump administration has delivered for our great farmers. We love our farmers. Under the previous administration, net farm income plummeted by 20 percent. And under my administration, net farm income has increased by over 50 percent. (Applause.)
And we’ve secured the historic trade deals, including the new trade deal with China. They’re going to buy $50 billion worth of your product. I don’t know if you’re going to be able to make it. The most they ever bought — remember? — the most they ever bought was $16 billion. Now they’re going buy $50 billion. You know, they agreed to 20.
And on closing — I was saying hello, and I said, “Where are you with the farmers?” “Sir, we’re at $20 billion.” That’s more they ever bought. The most was $16 billion, two years ago. So I got them up to 20. I said, “Make it 50.” (Laughter.) They said, “What?” I said, “Make it 50.” You got 1.5 billion people. Fifty — it’s peanuts. Make it $50 billion. Would you do me a favor? Make it $50 billion.” They agreed to do it. It wasn’t that easy, but they agreed to do it. (Applause.)
See that beautiful tractor over there and the beautiful tractor? I said, “You got to get bigger tractors. That’s all.” (Laughter.) They look like nice, big tractors. That’s a big tractor right back there. You got to get bigger tractors. You got to buy a little more land.
So, Larry, instead of selling your land, buy — buy some more. Okay? You know, buy a little more land. (Applause.)
But, no, they’re going to increase it. So, think of it: If they go to 40 to 50 billion dollars, you’re talking about a whole different industry.
Plus, I got Japan for $40 billion. You saw that. We signed that deal four months ago. (Applause.)
South Korea now is a big buyer. We signed that deal. (Applause.)
And the big one is the USMCA; that’s Mexico and Canada. (Applause.) And now you’re going to be treated with respect. You were treated pretty badly. You had tremendous tariffs going in — as example, on dairy products, you had a 287 percent tariff going into Canada, but we took care of it.
We virtually eliminated all of the taxes and all of the problems that the farmers were having. And I’m very proud to do it. Very special people.
And when I was negotiating the farm deal — I told this to Kevin — you know, some people complain. Not the farmer. They were going up — the fake-news CNN — (laughter) — was putting microphones in your face and saying, “Isn’t this terrible?” Because China — you know, they’re great negotiators — they pulled way back. And the farmers — I tell you, I didn’t hear a negative — they said, “Look, it’s very tough, but somebody had to do this.” This has been going on for 17, 18 years. Really, much longer than that. But it’s been going on at least for 18 years. “The farmer has been hurt. Somebody had to do it. The President is fighting for us.”
And we’re going through a rough patch. But what I did is I solved the rutch [sic] — roof — you know, the patch by getting — we got you $16 billion and we got you $12 billion from the year before. We took it out of the tariffs that we imposed. People don’t say it. They never like to say it, the fake news. But you were hurt the first year by $12 billion. Where we were taking in tens of billions of dollars in tariff, we didn’t get 10 cents forever from China. Now they’re paying us 25 percent on $250 billion, and then more after that.
So what I did is I took out the $12 billion; we gave it to the farmer. Then I took out — the next year, I said to Sonny Perdue — great Secretary of Agriculture — I said, “Sonny, how much this year?” “Sixteen.” I said, “Sixteen billion?” They stopped buying. I gave you $16 billion out of the tariffs. We had billions and billions left over.
And China came and they signed a wonderful agreement. So we’re very happy about it. (Applause.)
But the farmers — and the farmers didn’t even want this money. The farmers said to me — we had 36 farmers in the White House and they said very simply, “We don’t want this money. We just want a level playing field.” I got you better than a level playing field, okay? Better. (Applause.)
And one of the biggest things I did — and I said, “I’m going to get killed on this one.” We terminated the Waters of the United States Rule, which is — (applause) — basically, they were taking your property away from you. And think of that. They called it the “Clean Waters of the United States.” I said, “How do you sign that? How do you do that?” But other than the title, it was a disaster for builders and farmers and everybody.
And I remember when I signed it, I had a lot of people — a lot of farmers and construction workers and a lot of people behind me. And these are people that didn’t cry when they were babies. They would — never cried in their life, and they were crying. A lot of them were crying because I gave them their land back. I gave them their rights back. They took away their rights. If you had a puddle in the middle of your farm, they said it was a lake, it was a river, it was a — I mean, they virtually said it was an ocean, right? You had no right; you couldn’t get anywhere hear it. It was crazy. So we gave it back.
Federal bureaucrats will no longer micromanage every ditch, stock tank puddle, and pond on your land. From now on, it’s your land. It’s not their land. You’re going to do what you want with it. (Applause.) Terrible. It was a terrible — other than the title, it was a terrible thing.
Since I took office, the Department of Agriculture committed investing over $6.1 billion to rebuild. Think of that — $6.1 billion to rebuild and improve the rural water infrastructure.
And last month, I took a decisive action to slash regulatory approval times for critical infrastructure, including water projects. We have many water projects going on right now that would have never happened under the previous administration, or if Crooked Hillary won, which fortunately she didn’t. (Applause.)
Our proposal will limit the process to two years. Already, my administration is making every effort to finish the review process for the Friant Kern Canal in less than one year. (Applause.) Less than one year. We’re going to have it done in less than a year. Right, David?
And just to finish up: America is a nation built by farmers who work hard to provide their families, support their neighbors, and draw out God’s abundance from the Earth.
You pour out your sweat and soul. You pour out your heart. You really do. You’re incredible people. You work so hard and you’re smart as hell — (applause) — because to make it in your business, you have to be smart. Your communities, your country, we appreciate it so much.
And that’s why I’m here today and why I will always keep fighting for the American farmer and rancher. The people in this room are going to fight for you and we’re going to win. And we’re going to get you your water and put a lot of pressure on your governor. And, frankly, if he doesn’t do it, you’re going to get a new governor, because who could conceivably — (applause) — who could conceivably think of somebody that wouldn’t —
So I just leave by saying, God bless the American farmer. God bless America. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(The presidential memorandum is signed.)
This is a big step. Where is Jim? Where’s Jim? That’s yours, Jim. (Applause.) Thank you, fellas.
Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
3:41 P.M. PST