Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Executive Order

February 28, 2017-The White House-Roosevelt Room

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, everybody. We appreciate you being here. Thank you very much. First of all, I want to congratulate Scott Pruitt, who’s here someplace. Where’s Scott? (Applause.) So important. We’re going to free up our country, and it’s going be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that, but create millions of jobs. So many jobs are delayed for so many years, and it’s unfair to everybody. So I want congratulate Scott.

I want to thank everyone for being here today. We have a great group of farmers, homebuilders, and county commissioners. They’re all represented. They’re standing alongside of me. I’d also like to thank Jim Inhofe, who’s been so terrific in so many different ways, beyond even this. So I want thank Jim and also the leadership in the Senate on the issue, a friend of mine — a great friend of mine — John Barrasso.

The EPA’s so-called “Waters of the United States” rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation, and it has truly run amok, and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land. It’s prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s been a disaster.

The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate “navigable waters” — meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that “navigable waters” can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or anyplace else that they decide — right? It was a massive power grab. The EPA’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly. Horribly.

If you want to build a new home, for example, you have to worry about getting hit with a huge fine if you fill in as much as a puddle — just a puddle — on your lot. I’ve seen it. In fact, when it was first shown to me, I said, no, you’re kidding aren’t you? But they weren’t kidding.

In one case in a Wyoming, a rancher was fined $37,000 a day by the EPA for digging a small watering hole for his cattle. His land. These abuses were, and are, why such incredible opposition to this rule from the hundreds of organizations took place in all 50 states. It’s a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad. (Laughter.) I’ve been hearing about it for years and years. I didn’t know I’d necessarily be in this position to do something about it, but we’ve been hearing about it for years.

With today’s executive order, I’m directing the EPA to take action, paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.

So I want to thank everybody for being here. And I will sign wherever I’m supposed to sign. There we are. Thank you very much.

Stormy Weather Continuing Nationwide This Spring

What Is Left Of La Nina?  While temperature patterns nationwide may resemble La Nina this winter, precipitation patterns have not.  USDA meteorologist, Brad Rippey, says the stormy weather patterns of the winter should continue through the spring through most of the country.

Lawmakers Hear Experts on the Farm Financial Situation

As lawmakers begin the process of crafting the next farm bill, they are getting expert opinions on the current farm financial picture.  Gary Crawford. USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson. Dr. Nathan Kauffman with Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Dr. Scott Brown and Dr. Patrick Westhoff with University of Missouri. Dr. Joe Outlaw with Texas A & M.

U.S. Senate Ag Commitee “Hearing from the Heartland: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Kansas”

February 23, 2017, Manhattan, KS – Continuing his commitment to put the concerns of farmers and ranchers first, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, held the first hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill,  titled “Hearing from the Heartland: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Kansas.” Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow heard from two panels of witnesses representing agriculture and other stakeholders in rural communities.

The following is Chairman Roberts’ opening statement as prepared for delivery:

Good aft, noon.  I call this hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to order.  I’m privileged to convene this committee as chairman here in Manhattan, where I’ve spent many years learning…as a student I learned about journalism, and as a public servant, I continue to learn about how important agriculture is to our nation’s economy and national security.

…We start the journey to a successful and timely 2018 Farm Bill in the Heartland, because that is where it matters most…on our farms, ranches, businesses, and city and county halls across the countryside.  Producers, agribusinesses, and our rural communities are the ones who sign up for programs, comply with regulations, and feel the pain first-hand of over-burdensome or under-supportive policies.

So it is only right that we start this conversation here, with you.  No one understands the impacts of Farm Bills or policies set in Washington like America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.  Your experience – your story – is what we need to hear before we start writing a new Farm Bill.

And what a success story you have to tell. America’s producers…the folks that Paul Harvey spoke about in his famed “So God Made a Farmer” speech…have overcome drought, disease, floods, tornados, embargos, and even their own government, to produce the safest, most abundant, and affordable food and fiber supply the world has ever known.

Your fight and perseverance yield results.  According the most recent Census of Agriculture, your hard work resulted in over $394 billion worth of ag products sold.  In Kansas that value is over $18 billion.

More specifically to the Sunflower state, Kansans planted 23.2 million acres to crops in 2016.  Livestock in Kansas includes 6.25 million cattle, 1.9 million hogs, and over 140,000 dairy cows.

Our agriculture industry throughout the value chain must grow.  Technology must advance to better service this growth.  Critical to that growth is stability and an adequate safety net. That is why we need a good Farm Bill.

This Farm Bill journey will not be like the last one.  The agriculture sector enjoyed high prices during the last debate.  Now, we face multiple years of low prices, across the board.

I’m working to make Washington understand the differences between the economic conditions then and what you’re facing now.  You all understand it…Washington needs to as well.

To those who say passing a Farm Bill in this environment is a daunting task, I say together we can get it done.  We must embrace the attitude of our producers…optimism and ingenuity.  A farmer doesn’t plant the seed without the faith and optimism of harvesting a good crop.

But passing a new bill won’t be easy.  That’s why your help in crafting a bill that meets the needs of producers across all regions and all crops is absolutely necessary.  Note that I said all regions and all crops.  All of ag is struggling, not just one or two commodities.  We must write a bill that works across the countryside.

At the same time our government is spending money it doesn’t have.  Our national debt exceeds $19 trillion.

Agriculture, and specifically the Farm Bill, has consistently answered the call to do more with less.  The last Farm Bill voluntarily cut spending.  The previous crop insurance contract with USDA cut $6 billion from the program.  I could go on and on where ag gave at the store.  Farmers and ranchers pull themselves up from their bootstraps; they understand fiscal responsibility.

Therefore we must be judicious with the scarce resources we have.  We must ensure programs accomplish their fundamental purposes.  We must ask tough questions and reexamine programs to determine their effectiveness.

Are our conservation programs keeping farm land in operation, or are they merely used to comply with over-burdensome regulations?  Are rural development programs helping to increase economic opportunities in farm country, or are they being used to build out infrastructure in urban areas?

Now is the time to examine the core mission of USDA programs to ensure they are operating as intended.  And if they are not, then we must refocus them.

We need bold thinking and new ideas to address today’s challenges during tough economic times.

Let us not forget that in a few short decades, the global population will top 9 billion people. Agriculture production will need to double in the near future to meet demand.  Accomplishing this task requires efficiency, not just on the farm and ranch, but also in the government.

Feeding an increasing global population is not simply an agriculture challenge, it is a national security challenge.  Show me a country that cannot feed itself, and I’ll show you a nation in chaos.

This means we need to grow more and raise more with fewer resources.  That will take research, new technology, lines of credit, and proper risk management. It takes the government providing an adequate safety net and then getting out of the producer’s way.

So that is why we are here today.  To hear from the entire value chain of agriculture on what is working, what is not, and how we can improve.

For those who want to provide advice and counsel on the Farm Bill, we have set up an email address on the Senate Ag Committee’s website to collect your input into the Farm Bill discussion.

Please go to ag.senate.gov and click on the Farm Bill Hearing box on the left side of the screen.  You can send us your own input for the committee to consider as we write the next Farm Bill.  That link will be open for five business days following today’s hearing.

To view the hearing and to submit input for consideration of the upcoming Farm Bill, CLICK HERE.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry,  statement as prepared for delivery:

I want to start this hearing by sincerely thanking Chairman Roberts for his years of leadership on issues important to American agriculture. Chairman Roberts and I have had a great working relationship.

And often despite great odds, we have gotten a lot done.

He’s one of the hardest working members of Congress.  After all, he is a Marine. Let me tell you – nothing says honor, courage and commitment like battling through more than 70 amendments together to get a bipartisan Farm Bill across the finish line in the Senate last time!

Kansas has a noteworthy history of Senators creating great legislative partnerships to advance and support American agriculture and food policy.

Many of you know the name Senator Arthur Capper as the author of the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922 which authorized the creation of agricultural cooperatives.

We all know the legendary partnership of Senator Bob Dole and George McGovern and their important work to fight hunger.

I look forward to continuing the legacy of partnerships with a great Senator from Kansas as we work together on the 2018 Farm Bill.

Looking back at the last Farm Bill, many people thought we would never get it done. The process was long and took an unconventional path. We faced a tough budget situation and we had to make hard choices.

But we never lost sight of who we needed to serve. With 16 million American jobs relating to food and agriculture, it was our priority to support our farmers and ranchers, ensure consumers had access to affordable, nutritious food; and advocate for small towns and rural communities.

Despite all the challenges we faced, we accomplished a lot in the last Bill, by reforming commodity programs and supporting new risk management tools, providing permanent funding for three livestock disaster programs, creating new opportunities for voluntary conservation, and streamlining nearly 100 different programs.

These historic reforms saved billions and protected the integrity of critical safety net programs like crop insurance.

I am also proud of the work that Senator Roberts and I did together to create new partnerships to fund innovative agricultural research through the creation of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

As we start to work on the next Farm Bill, we know that the farm economy is not where we want it to be.

Low prices have pinched margins and made it tough for many producers to make ends meet. And we have heard from many producers that we need to take a hard look at our dairy and cotton programs.

I think our Senate Agriculture Committee members agree that we should focus on the needs of farmers and rural communities in the next Farm Bill, not arbitrary cuts. It is clear to me that there are important needs we should address.

Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the Farm Bill is projected to save $80 billion more than initially expected, largely driven by lower crop insurance costs and reduced spending on nutrition as people find jobs and no longer need help.

But we face a budgetary challenge of finding funds for 37 key programs that don’t have a budget baseline – including programs that support beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans, food access, rural development, and the emerging bio-based economy.

And just this week, more than 500 groups—from every part of the farm and food sector—came to together to reject calls for additional cuts to Farm Bill programs including crop insurance, nutrition and conservation.

We know the Farm Bill is doing more than its fair share to reduce the deficit. Any further cuts would be made at the detriment of farmers and families.

In this new Congress, we face a political climate unlike any other, but if there’s anyone who can pass a comprehensive bipartisan piece of legislation, it is the Senate Agriculture Committee. I like to think that our Committee is unique.

Our interests are rooted in bipartisanship because we share the goals of supporting our nation’s farmers and ranchers who produce the world’s safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply.

Writing a Farm Bill is no simple task. And we certainly can’t do it alone, which is why we are here today.

This is the first of many hearings we will conduct to get feedback from farmers and ranchers, as well as the many people and organizations who have a stake in the outcome of farm and food policy.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to hear from you.

We were able to get this done last time thanks to the support and input we received and the broad coalition that came together to support our comprehensive, bipartisan bill.

Agriculture needs a big tent coalition of farmers, ranchers, commodity groups, rural economic development and food access advocates, bio energy leaders and conservationists working together.

So today, I look forward to learning about your priorities. What is working? What should we focus on to improve? How should we do that?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

Cottonseed As A Future Title One Farm Bill Commodity Crop?

The cotton industry hopes that a co-product of their crop, cottonseed, will be covered as part of the commodity title of a new Farm Bill.   Rod Bain, former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Steve Verrett of the National Cotton Council.

Farmer Leaders Direct Soy Checkoff Investment

Kevin Wilson is a 4thyear United Soybean Board Director talking with Agrinet today about how United Soybean Board farmer-leaders are thinking like investors.   USB is making many investments on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers.

And how do you see investing in the industry different from – and similar to – making investments on your own farm? On the farm soybean farmers looking for the right feed, fertilizer, return on investments are as good as we can get.

On the industry side looking for sustainable, positive return back to the farmers. Looking at exports & importers, making sure when they run analysis of our meal and molasses and who they benefit them more, making sure the benefits to the farmers are being felt.

Kevin Wilson United Soybean Board Director and Indiana farmer on how farmer leaders direct soy checkoff investment.