3:14 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Busy day. They had a very busy day — had a good day. We’re doing well, very well. Things are turning around. I know they’re turning around for you folks, so I just want to welcome you very much to the White House — special place — America’s farmers and ranchers.
I especially want to congratulate Secretary — now I can say, Secretary Sonny Perdue, who was just sworn in as the Secretary of Agriculture — (applause) — sworn in by Justice Thomas. And it was a beautiful ceremony, and we’re going to celebrate a little bit later, and that’s great. We’re very happy. And you had a good vote too.
SECRETARY PERDUE: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: You didn’t have one of those 51-49 votes. (Laughter.) He had a very big vote, so thank Justice Thomas too — great man, great person. We appreciate it.
America’s noble farming tradition stretches back to its earliest days. Farmers led the way across the Great Plains, and put down roots from coast to coast. Today, America’s farmers feed not only our nation, but millions of people around the world, and we’re going to open that up much more for you folks because, as you know, it’s not totally open, to put it mildly. We learned that yesterday, frankly, with Canada, where the dairy farmers up in Wisconsin, Upstate New York, different places — a lot of border states in particular — are not able to sell their dairy products into Canada. And this has been going on for a while, and we’re not going to put up with it.
And separately, we put a very big tax — we will be putting a very big tariff on lumber — timber — coming into this country. People don’t realize Canada has been very rough on the United States. Everyone thinks of Canada as being wonderful, and so do I. I love Canada. But they’ve outsmarted our politicians for many years, and you people understand that. So we did institute a very big tariff; we announced it yesterday. And we’re going to take care of our dairy farmers in Wisconsin, and Upstate New York, and lots of other places. So I think you people all probably agree with that, right? Would you agree with that? You better believe it.
Our farmers deserve a government that serves their interest and empowers them to do the hard work that they love to do so much. And that’s what today’s executive order is all about. With this order, I’m directing Secretary Perdue to work with other members of my Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural communities.
Now, Sonny, I’ve already signed a lot of regulations and terminations that really help the farmer a lot. You know what I’m talking about. But we have some left, and you’ll identify them. But we’ve really gotten rid of some of the biggest ones. And that was a big help, right? I mean, they won’t tell you about it, but they’re big numbers, and it’s going to mean a lot to the farmers.
This order also establishes the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, to be led by Secretary Perdue. I just want to tell you that it’s an honor to be with you because, among many other things, with this order, we continue a very relentless effort to make life better for hardworking Americans, and that includes the farmers and all of the people gathered around this table, including our ranchers, our rural community folks. We’re having a very, very big impact. It’s already started. Sonny is going to now identify additional areas where we can get rid of unnecessary regulations, and you people are going to be so prosperous, and you’re going to hire so many more people than currently work for you, and that’s going to make me very happy, okay?
So I want to thank you very much. So do we have the executive order, please?
So this is promoting agriculture and rural prosperity in America. And, now, there’s a lot of words I won’t bother reading everything. But agriculture and rural prosperity in America, that’s what we want. And we don’t want to be taken advantage of by other countries — and that’s stopping, and that’s stopping fast. Okay, thank you.
(The President signs the executive order.)
Well, perhaps I should give this pen to Sonny Perdue. What do you think? (Laughter and applause.)
Thank you very much, everybody.
Q Mr. President, do you fear a trade war with Canada, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: No, not at all.
Q Why not?
THE PRESIDENT: They have a tremendous surplus with the United States. Whenever they have a surplus, I have no fear. By the way, virtually every country has a surplus with the United States. We have massive trade deficits. So when we’re the country with the deficits, we have no fear.
Q Will you sign a CR if it doesn’t include funding for the wall?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Will you sign a CR to continue funding the government if it doesn’t include —
THE PRESIDENT: The wall is going to get built, by the way. Just in case anybody has any question: The wall is going to get built, and the wall is going to stop drugs, and it’s going to stop a lot of people from coming in that shouldn’t be here, and it’s going to have a huge effect on human trafficking, which is a tremendous problem in this world — a problem that nobody talks about — but it’s a problem that’s probably worse than any time in the history of this world. Human trafficking, what’s going on.
The wall is going to get built, and we’re setting record numbers in terms of stopping people from coming in, and stopping drugs from coming in. You see the numbers down 73, 74 percent. I will say, Secretary Kelly — formerly General Kelly — is doing an incredible job. And I was just with him a little while ago, and he said we definitely, desperately need the wall. And we’re going to have the wall built. I mean, I don’t know why people are talking. I watch these shows, and the pundits in the morning — they don’t know what they’re talking about. The wall gets built — 100 percent. Thank you very much.
Q When will the wall get built?
THE PRESIDENT: Soon. We’re already preparing. We’re doing plans. We’re doing specifications. We’re doing a lot of work on the wall, and the wall gets built. The wall is very, very important.
Q In your first term?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s certainly going to — yeah, yeah, sure.
Q In your first term?
THE PRESIDENT: We have plenty of time — got a lot of time.
3:21 P.M. EDT