NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The loudest standing ovation burst forth when President Donald Trump talked about the successful reduction in the “death tax” as part of the new tax reform bill.
The second loudest was reserved for the president’s comments about standing up for the national anthem and the American flag.
Trump was speaking at the 99th annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Tennessee—a state that incidentally uses almost half of its land area for farming.
The death tax, or estate tax, is a federal tax applied to the assets of a person after their death. Under the just-passed tax reform bill, the exemption from the estate tax is doubled, from $5.49 million to almost $11 million. For estates worth more than the exemption, the federal tax rate remains 40 percent. Some states also have their own estate taxes.
“From now on, most family farms and small-business owners will be spared … of the deeply unfair estate tax, known as the death tax—so you can keep your farms in the family,” Trump said, to raucous applause.
“What’s been happening is, you know, you have a farm and it does well, but its value is more than the income really would justify. Families were forced to take these farms and sell them at a fire-sale price. And they go out and borrow too much money, and then they end up losing the farm. It’s not going to happen anymore, folks.”
Trump touted the freshly signed tax bill as helping small businesses and farmers, mentioning the ability to deduct 20 percent of their business income.
And in what he called the “sleeper of the bill,” Trump said all businesses, including farmers, will be able to deduct 100 percent of the cost of new equipment in the year the investment is made—as opposed to over many years.
“We know that our nation was founded by farmers. Our independence was won by farmers. Our continent was tamed by farmers. Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers. And throughout our history, farmers have always, always, always led the way,” Trump said.
Trump mentioned trade, which is something farmers have expressed concern about, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“To level the playing field for our great American exporters, … we are reviewing all of our trade agreements to make sure they are fair and reciprocal,” Trump said.
“On NAFTA, I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers.”
Implemented in 1994, NAFTA has removed barriers to agricultural trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Agricultural exports from the United States to Canada and Mexico have increased from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016, according to the American Farm Bureau website.
Renegotiations for NAFTA began on Aug. 16, 2017.
Better Internet Access
A lack of access to the internet impedes many rural Americans from engaging in the modern economy.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans, or 23 million people, lack sufficient broadband access.
To that end, Trump signed two executive orders as a first step toward expanding access to broadband internet in rural areas.
The first of the two orders instructs the Department of the Interior to dedicate a portion of its assets for rural broadband installation. The second order will streamline the installation process by requiring agencies to use standardized forms and contracts for installing antennas on federal buildings, thus improving process efficiency.
In closing, Trump said farmers “embody the values of hard work, grit, self-reliance, and sheer determination.”
“We are witnessing a new era of patriotism, prosperity, and pride—and at the forefront of this exciting new chapter is the great American farmer,” he said.
Trump finished with a phrase he said he’d heard all his life and considers to be very accurate: “Farm country is God’s country.”