I am writing this before President Trump’s State of the Union address, and you will read it afterward, so it’s risky to try and predict what the President will say. But it’s safe to assume that he will take the proverbial victory lap for the economic gains of the past year. With the stock market up and unemployment down, President Trump certainly has something to crow about. Many Farm Bureau members got a preview of what the President will say when he talked about the economic gains in his speech at our annual convention in Nashville.
From day one on the job, Presidents have the power to start what they think will benefit our country or stop what they think does not. President Trump has had opportunities over the past year to shape the economic playing field and consumer confidence. He deserves credit for reviewing regulations. The tax reform package he supported was just signed into law about a month ago, but it is already having an impact as corporations and investors make decisions based on the policies now in place.
To continue to improve our economy, the President and his team must do two things:
1) continue working to reduce government regulations that are a barrier to farming and ranching, as well as business growth; and 2) grow foreign markets for the farm goods and other things we produce in the U.S. Many farmers and ranchers will be listening for messages from the President concerning these two critical issues.
Also, while the broader economy is doing well, the farm economy is struggling. The slide in farm income has stabilized over the past year, but it remains about half of what it was five years ago. I don’t know many people who could get by on half of their income. This has been a tough time for many farm families. The two issues I’ve already mentioned—cutting regulatory burdens and growing foreign markets—are key to turning the farm economy around. So is fixing our persistent ag labor challenges and maintaining strong farm policy, such as crop insurance and other tools to help farmers and ranchers manage risk.
While the President deserves to bask in the glow of a good economy, there is work to be done to ensure the economic recovery extends to American agriculture, and continues for years to come.