As the gears of impeachment are winding up in Washington, President Donald Trump will leave the tension of the Beltway for friendlier confines in Austin Sunday at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention. This is the third consecutive year the president has spoken before the gathering of farmers and ranchers from across the country, and according to the latest Farm Journal Pulse Poll, he may receive his warmest greeting yet.
Overall job approval for President Trump ticked up a point in January to 83% of the 1,286 respondents, the high mark in the months that Farm Journal has been tracking the president’s approval. Only 16% disapprove.
“Of note is the strongly approve category went up three percentage points from an already lofty (December) number and his highest overall approval ratings ever,” notes Pro Farmer policy analyst Jim Wiesemeyer. “That says the president's approval is rock-solid. With the recent upbeat news on USMCA and the Phase 1 accord with China, the ratings will likely remain firm ahead.”
Those rating the president’s job performance as ‘strongly approve’ rose to 64% in January, up from 61% at the end of 2019.
The President is expected to take a victory lap on recent trade wins as he speaks to the Farm Bureau Sunday, noting the phase one trade deal signed with China on Wednesday and Senate approval of the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement on Thursday. Trump is expected to sign that agreement this week according to Wiesemeyer.
Wiesemeyer also expects the president to come to Austin bearing a new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that will be more agreeable to agriculture. The Obama-era WOTUS rule was repealed by the Trump Administration in 2018. The rule defines which waters are regulated by the Clean Water Act. Farm groups argued the Obama rule was unnecessarily vague and dramatically broadened the enforcement landscape of the Clean Water Act. A strong signal that WOTUS could be in the mix at the Farm Bureau Convention is that EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will also be speaking before the convention this week. (As will USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.)
A three-year string of appearances at Farm Bureau is key to the president’s electoral strategy according to Wiesemeyer.
“Trump needs the rural vote to keep the same states he won in 2016 in his win column come November,” Wiesemeyer says. “In fact, contacts say he is focusing on winning Minnesota this time (he was close in 2016) as a backstop should he lose a state he won in 2016. That means agriculture will continue to be a key topic in the president's re-election campaign.”
President Trump is scheduled to speak at the Farm Bureau Convention in Austin after 5 p.m. Central on Sunday. The speech will be live streamed on AgWeb.com.