USDA Asks What Regulations to Cut

Ag Secretary Says USDA Will Provide Congress with Farm Bill Principles

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke early Monday at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting before President Donald Trump addressed the crowd later in the afternoon. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (DTN) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue served as a warm-up act Monday at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting, telling a crowd of roughly 4,500 people that USDA will soon outline the Trump administration's principles for the farm bill.

Keeping with a theme of the Trump administration knocking down regulatory burdens, Perdue also called on farmers to tell USDA which regulations should be eliminated.

Perdue told farmers that Congress will write the farm bill, but USDA will unveil "farm bill principles" as a roadmap for Congress to use.

Perdue added that it will be the administration's "way of letting Congress know" what the administration has learned from farmers and ranchers.

Perdue spent most of his speech listing what he considers to be the Trump administration's accomplishments, highlighted by the rewrite of the Waters of the United States rule.

"Sometimes a mud puddle is just a puddle," Perdue said in reference to farmer fears that the Obama-era rule would have brought the Environmental Protection Agency or its representatives onto their farms to look at small water bodies that might contribute to pollution in navigable streams.

Perdue also told the Farm Bureau that USDA wants individual farmers and ranchers to tell USDA "what regulations are standing in the way of your productivity and prosperity."

He presented the report of the White House Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity that he chairs, and told the audience members to "go to the website and tell us the silliest, most onerous rules."

Perdue also acknowledged that "there is a certain amount of anxiety about what's going on in trade right now." He sought to assure the crowd that concluding the North American Free Trade Agreement talks is a priority for the Trump administration.

"To get a deal, we need all sides to seriously roll up their sleeves and get to work," Perdue said. "We have put a number of proposals on the table to modernize NAFTA, and critically for agriculture, to address key sectors left out of the original agreement -- dairy and poultry tariffs in Canada. Now, we want to see our negotiating partners step up and engage so we can get the deal done."

Perdue, responding to Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, challenged Canada's dairy and poultry tariffs in Canada. He called on Canada to step up for "meaningful negotiations."

Perdue added, "I have great faith in President Trump's skills as a negotiator."

(DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom helped contribute to this article)

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Chris Clayton