President Trump’s first address before Congress Tuesday was short on farm-specific topics, but farm groups are still celebrating the president’s actions against the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
Trump has been busy getting the ball rolling to dump the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s WOTUS rule, and associations at the 2017 Commodity Classic are largely encouraged by the president’s actions to reduce regulations during his first 100 days.
“Soybean farmers in general and agriculture and rural America strongly supported President Trump,” said Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association (ASA). “We’re very encouraged on the regulatory side of things: tax reform, infrastructure, concerns about trade.”
Censky says ASA was against WOTUS from the beginning because it created too much uncertainty on farms.
Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says the president’s announcement to stop the rule is an important step, hopefully removing it from the courts and sparking a conversation within the EPA that put’s agriculture’s interest at the forefront.
“There still is a need for clarification and guidance,” said Novak. “Our understanding is that the rule directs EPA to look specifically at one of Judge Scalia’s decisions on the Clean Water Act, which certainly will help ensure that we’ve got a rule in place that still protects the waters of the United States, and at the same time is workable for farmers and small businesses.”
Rumors have been floating around about possible changed to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), including changing the point of obligation, however, the White House denies those reports.
If the administration does end up tweaking the RFS, the ASA wants to make sure agriculture has a seat at the front of the table.
“One of the things we would like is a strong RFS, making sure we have those volumes continue to increase every year,” said Censky. “A second action…is to support our efforts to renew the biodiesel tax incentive and any kind of tax reform legislation and shift it from a blender’s credit to a producer’s credit.”
Demand and trade is something all associations are watching closely. Novak says agriculture is the bright spot in exports, helping deliver a trade surplus in the U.S.
Talks of trade negotiations coming at the cost of commodities like corn has groups on edge, especially considering Mexico is one of the top two buyers of both corn and soybeans from the U.S., but ASA says they’re continuing to communicate the importance of trade with the administration.