Sonny Perdue addressed thousands of farmers Wednesday at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture got down to business right away, dispelling concerns about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“I can tell you unequivocally, President Trump stands with corn farmers, he stands with biofuels farmers and he stands with the RFS,” Perdue said. “He said that very clearly. And I want you to know I stand with him and I stand with you.”
Perdue was addressing a meeting that occurred Tuesday at the White House between RFS supports and opponents. Perdue pointed to varying news stories on the meeting, dismissing reports he or President Trump didn’t stand with farmers.
“I have not, and I will not support any policies in this country that diminish the demand or undermine the RFS that are harmful to our agricultural producers,” he told the crowd.
Perdue says the meeting between President Trump and Republican senators was a fact-finding mission for the President to hear both sides of the debate and understand the issues. Present at the meeting were Sen. Joni Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
“He looked at Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ernst and he said, ‘I’ve been strong for the farmers, we’re gonna be strong for the farmers, and we’re going to maintain the RFS.’”
American Soybean Association Treasurer and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Director Bill Gordon was impressed with Perdue’s willingness to address the RFS reports with farmers.
“I think he addressed the issues straightforward,” Gordon said. “Instead of dodging the issue like most politicians, he just came out and said, ‘I’m a farmer, I’m a grain handler, I make stuff and I ship stuff. I never wavered off of that, the President hasn’t wavered off of that, and we’re going to get it done.’”
Perdue said his office consistently hears about regulation, trade and the workforce, and that is what drives his team. He talked to the audience about tax overhaul, about streamlining processes within his department and about making things more efficient and less cumbersome for farmers.
“He was really a no B.S. kind of a speaker,” Gordon said. “He said, ‘This is what we’re doing, and this is what we’re going to do.’ It wasn’t a bunch of promises. Sometimes you hear from these representatives, ‘We’re going to try to help you out here if we can.’ This is a guy who is actually getting this stuff done. We’ve gotten 22 regulations removed for every one that has been added. That’s pretty impressive.”
On the upcoming farm bill, Perdue stressed USDA does not write the legislation, Congress does, but that his office will be a strong resource and help guide the process.
“We want the farm bill to provide a basic farm safety net,” he said. “It must help American farmers weather times of economic crisis and stress without distorting markets. I think we would all agree it doesn’t help prices when producers start planning for the program and not for the market.”
Perdue also said the farm bill needs to produce a variety of innovative crop insurance products, and it needs to look to help the next generation of farmers.