Last Saturday at the National FFA Convention & Expo, President Donald J. Trump addressed thousands of convention-goers in Indianapolis, praising agriculturalists for their contribution to society and highlighting his administration's trade policies.
Each year the National FFA Organization invites the sitting President of the United States to attend the National FFA Convention and Expo. According to the official press release from the National FFA Organization, Trump is the first president in 27 years to speak at the event, the last being President George H.W. Bush in 1991.
Trump spoke to FFA members, advisors, and convention attendees for over an hour, covering a large magnitude of issues, and inviting special guests to join him on stage.
Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting
He somberly opened his speech by addressing the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, which happened earlier that morning and left 11 people dead and six injured.
"We are praying for the families of the victims, and our hearts go out to the wounded law enforcement officers in Pittsburgh," says Trump. "We mourn for the unthinkable loss of life that took place today."
The crowd erupted into applause as he told FFA members that people who commit such acts of 'pure evil' need capital punishment swiftly, without "ten years of legal wrangling."
Following his remarks, Trump brought Pastor Tom O'Leary and Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow on stage to pray over our nation, and the FFA convention.
The president then shifted his remarks to the business of farming starting with the Trump administration's controversial trade policies, and trade "disputes".
Much of Trump's speech was focused on this topic, assuring FFA members that his policies will help their families' farm in the long run.
"My administration is fighting for our farmers every single day. We are replacing unfair trade deals," declares Trump. "If you look at farming over the last 15 years, it's a steady decline, and there is no reason for it. It's now going to be a steady incline."
Trump went on to explain how his administration will be opening new markets for exports, eliminating "job-killing regulations," and ending "oppressive federal intrusion." He said he has already replaced trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, because they were detrimental to American farmers.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a significantly revised North American trade deal after more than a year of intense negotiations. What used to be NAFTA will now be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
Trump also boasted about the White House's commitment to increase ethanol usage nationwide, and touted his tax reform package which he claims helps producers.
The president gave praise to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who was also in attendance, for his contribution and dedication to the industry and reform efforts.
"Your Secretary of Agriculture Mr. Sonny Perdue knows more about farming than any human being I have ever seen in my life, and he loves his farmers," observes Trump.
Farm Bill and relief efforts
Midway through the president's speech, he addressed a significant issue that has many producers concerned: the expired Farm Bill.
In his remarks, he admits that work requirements for SNAP is one of the primary objectives for the new Farm Bill.
SNAP has been a sticking point in reaching a compromise along with policy on land conservation programs. The White House and conservatives in the House have pushed for the SNAP changes, but Democrats oppose tougher work rules for the government's food assistance program.
"We are fighting very hard for a terrific Farm Bill that includes work requirements for Food Stamps [SNAP]," says Trump. "I could've signed the Farm Bill months ago, but we're trying to make a good bill."
He indicated the much like trade negotiations, he is not going to sign the bill until he his confident it is in American agriculture's best interest.
President Trump went on to acknowledge areas, such as Florida, that have been hit by natural disasters and touched on ways the government is assisting producers in those territories.
He talked in length about his administration's tax cuts and reforms which he claims will save family farmers and small business owners from the "deeply unfair" estate tax. Trump boasts that said tax cuts will allow farm and ranch operations to remain in the family without mortgaging the farm to pay the taxes.
Trump salutes the FFA
This year's American Star Award recipients joined the president on stage as he introduced them and announced their contribution to the industry.
The three award recipients were Austin Stanton of the Centralia FFA Chapter in Missouri, Benjamin Curtin of the Taylorville FFA Chapter in Illinois, and Colin Wegner of the United South Central FFA in Minnesota.
In his final remarks, Trump commended FFA members, praising them for their strong character and priceless dedication to the industry.
"The FFA creed has taught you to believe in self-reliance, and honest dealing. To never give up in the face of hardship. Most of all that creed promises that if you will hold true to the best traditions of our national life, if you cherish our freedom, our values, and our country there is nothing you can not achieve."
That National FFA Organization received some minor pushback from concerned parents and convention-goers about the president's visit, but FFA members such as Lizzi Neal publicized great respect for the president and showed a tremendous amount of patriotism.
In her viral social media post, Lizzi posted the following statement, "Let us all set aside our pride and just be thankful that in a time of such distress for our country, our President chose not to let the evil win instead he looked upon the future of America, the future of agriculture with a grateful heart. We may not all be Republicans, we may not all even be Democrats, but we are all Americans and that in itself is the most powerful thing of all!"