President Donald Trump brought his fight to build a border wall to the 100th American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in New Orleans, La., on Monday. There, the president found support for border security and received a standing ovation when he promised to address ag labor concerns.
“We're going to have a barrier. We're going to have something that's going to be very strong,” Trump said to a standing crowd of 7,000 farmers.
In December, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought across our borders, said Trump, adding “most of the drugs” in the U.S. enter via the southern border. According to Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and border patrol agents are asking for a wall and America must provide them the tools necessary to do their jobs well.
“As president, the defense of our nation is my highest and most important duty, and this is the defense of our nation,” he said. “I will never ever back down.”
Trump invited Arizona rancher Jim Chilton on stage to say a few words. Chilton's ranch, which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border, is on the route for a major Mexican drug trafficking cartel.
“Mr. President, we need a wall,” said Chilton to a standing ovation. He thinks a wall is necessary to stop drug traffickers from importing drugs that “poison our people.”
Directing his comments to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Chilton said: “Walls are not immoral. The biggest wall I've ever seen is around the Vatican.”
Addressing the concern of many in the agricultural industry, Trump promised immigration reform, which would make it easier for farmers to source immigrant labor.
"We want to take people in to help our farmers,” he said. “We're going to make it easier for them because you need these people.”
The cheers of the farmers in attendance made it clear they support President Trump’s border wall and his promises of immigration reform.
Touching On Trade
President Trump briefly mentioned trade during his one-hour talk, touching on a potential trade deal with the European Union, the trade war with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“I don’t blame China,” he said, adding it’s our leaders’ fault for allowing the theft of intellectual property to happen. “Over the past 15 years, we've seen a continual decline in the U.S. share of agricultural trade all throughout the world. You know it's all going in the wrong direction when you see that happen. We do the right deal with the Chinese—you're talking about massive [improvement].”
Trump added China is already “backordering” products from the U.S. While export data is not available during the ongoing government shutdown, previous data shows China is purchasing soybeans, but at a very slow rate.
“We want a fair deal for American farmers, removing China's arbitrary bans on agricultural imports to safeguard our intellectual property and providing fair market access to all American producers,” he said.
Trump also touted opening markets for pork exports to Argentina, poultry exports to India and Morocco, potato exports to Japan and beef exports to Brazil and China.
In addition, the president said he made history by replacing the “horrible” North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with USMCA. That deal has yet to be approved by Congress.
Overviewing The Wins
While addressing Farm Bureau members, President Trump gave an overview of his ag policy scorecard, mentioning several subjects that received standing ovations from the crowd. Those included tax reform, the repeal of the Waters of the U.S. rule, the “virtual elimination” of the estate tax, an increase in farm income and the passage of the farm bill.