The Freitas Family Farm
2:37 P.M. PDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, California! (Applause.) It is great to be back in the Golden State with so many great American farmers, ranchers, and friends on such a beautiful and glorious day. Thank you all for coming out.
And speaking of friends of mine, allow me to bring greetings from a great friend of America’s farmers and a man who, when we were talking last night, and I told him I was going to be with all of you, I thought he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Laughter.) So let me bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
The President asked me to be here today for one reason, and one reason only. And I think you farmers that are gathered here today know it, and all of you in the San Joaquin Valley understand it. California and America need Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and we need them to pass it this year. (Applause.) That’s what it’s all about.
And I’m going to share a few thoughts with you today and then have a chance to say hello to as many time permits. But thank you again for coming out. It’s an honor to be with you today.
I’m also honored to be joined by some great leaders in public and private life who are with us here today: a great friend of mine, who served the state of California with great distinction in the past and I know has a great and bright future, former Congressman David Valadao. (Applause.) Where are you, David? Thank you, David. (Applause.) Great job today.
And Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove. Shannon, thank you so much for your great leadership. (Applause.) A great conservative.
And I also want to join David and the others who’ve expressed appreciation for our host today. I think for those of you who know me a little bit, know I’m from south of Highway 40, in Indiana. (Laughter.) So I can’t tell you how good I feel just being back on a farm. So would you join me in thanking Doug and Julie Freitas for being such great hosts and being such a great example of the American family farm. Let’s hear it for them. (Applause.) Thank you.
So, thank you all for that.
Now, before I get started on the subject of the day, let me — let me just say a few words as your Vice President about something that I know has been on everyone’s minds here in California, and, frankly, has been on the hearts of every American.
And when I landed just a few hours ago, on Air Force Two, I was pleased to get a briefing from Cal OES and the U.S. Geological Survey and FEMA about last week’s earthquakes near Ridgecrest. Now, these were serious earthquakes. And I want you to know the American people know that. They were incredibly powerful, and we thank God that they weren’t worse.
And I want to assure each and every one of you all across the state of California that, at the President’s direction, our administration is already hard at work supporting the recovery efforts. The President issued an emergency declaration to make federal resources available. And we are working with state and local officials to speed that support to families. (Applause.)
But two more messages. First and foremost, I have to tell you: The fact that at the present, within the state of California, there are no reported loss of life, it wasn’t worse, it is a tribute to many people but no one more so than our first responders. So can we give a round of applause to all of those who responded so swiftly in the wake of the earthquakes? Job well done. (Applause.)
And I also have a message to all the people across Ridgecrest and all the affected areas. I want to assure you that the American people are with you, and we will stay with you and provide the support to you and your communities until you rebuilt bigger and better than ever before. And that’s a promise. (Applause.) So God bless them all. (Applause.)
Thank you for that.
With that, let me just say, again, it is great to be back on a farm. Great to be back with all of you. You know, I mentioned I was raised in the heart of the heartland, in a small town in southern Indiana. I had a cornfield in my backyard. That cornfield is still there to this day.
I grew up among farmers. I wasn’t raised on a farm, but we owned some cattle when I was growing up and had a few horses. I want to tell you, I cleaned more — my share of stalls in my day. Good preparation for service in Washington, D.C. (Laughter and applause.)
You know, the truth is, in America, just like here in the San Joaquin Valley, we do two things particularly well: We make things and we grow things. And here in California, that is especially true on the latter front.
I want you to know that we know California is the most agriculturally diverse state in America, and the San Joaquin Valley is one of the most dynamic agricultural areas in the world, and we want to see it prosper even more. (Applause.)
I mean, the President and I firmly believe that America is many things, but, at our core, throughout our history, America is agriculture. What you sow, our nation reaps. And what you plant bears fruit all over the world.
You know the dignity of a hard day’s work. Your values echo through communities and states all across this nation. You model every day the grit that drives our nation forward, and people of agriculture and people of the farm always have. You, in every sense, embody the virtues and the values that are at the root of American greatness. That is the American farm. (Applause.)
You know, the President put it well. He said, one time, quote, “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…led the way.” And it’ll always be true. (Applause.)
And in every decision that we’ve made in this administration, the President made a solemn promise that we would be honoring and supporting America’s proud farming legacy. And that’s what we’ve done, and that’s what brings me here today.
You think of the last two and a half years — it’s been a remarkable journey for our country. I mean, the truth is this President has been putting family farmers and small businesses and businesses of every size first, and America’s economy is booming.
From the first day of this administration, we’ve rolled back red tape at a historic pace. And I remember, back on the campaign trail, the President promised that we would repeal two federal regulations for every one new federal rule put on the books. And I’m here to admit to our friends in California that we haven’t exactly done that. We’ve actually repealed 14 federal regulations for every new federal rule put on the books. (Applause.)
In fact, we’ve already cancelled or delayed more than 1,500 planned rules. That’s more than any President in American history. We are clearing away the red tape in the city and on the farm. (Applause.)
And it’s made a difference right here for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. For instance, to ensure that farmers and ranchers in this state and all across America can control the land that you own and possess and develop, this President repealed the Waters of the USA rule. We’ve reaffirmed our commitment to private property in America. (Applause.)
And we did something also important for family farms just like this one. I know that Doug and Julie want to pass this extraordinary third-generation farm on to Joshua and Aaron. And thanks to President Donald Trump and our supporters in the Congress, that’s going to be a whole lot easier because this President signed a tax cut that eliminated a tax — the death tax — for nearly every family farmer in America so you can keep your farms in your family. (Applause.)
I mean, we cut taxes across the board, in the city and on the farm. We cut taxes for working families. We doubled the child tax credit. We doubled the standard deduction, so American families now can actually get their first $24,000 in income completely tax-free.
And thanks to the President’s tax reforms, farmers — as you all know already, I’m sure — can now deduct 100 percent of the cost of every piece of new equipment you buy. (Applause.) Those input costs can be completely deducted in the year you make that purchase. It makes a difference. (Applause.)
I remember back in Indiana, people would talk about farm income and I’d be the first one, back when I was a congressman and when I was a governor, to remind people about what you all called an “input cost” on farming — I mean, those tractors, those combines, that equipment — that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the President understood that. Our allies in the Congress understood that. And now we make it more possible for your family farm to thrive.
You know, it’s amazing to think, in the last two and a half years, we’ve rolled back red tape, we’ve cut taxes, we’ve unleashed American energy. And as I said, the results have been remarkable. Since Election Day, businesses large and small across this country have created more than 6 million new good-paying jobs, including 800,000 jobs right here in the state of California. (Applause.)
You know, we like to say there’s only way you can describe the last two and half years. It’s been two and a half years action. (Applause.) It’s been two and a half years of results. (Applause.) It’s been two and a half years of promises made and promises kept, California! And we’re just getting started. (Applause.)
You know, but for all the progress we’ve made over the last two and a half years, I can tell you that’s just what President Trump calls a “good start.” (Applause.)
And I’m here because California’s farmers and America’s farmers, and businesses large and small, need the kind of free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals that will put American jobs and American workers first. We’ve been busy about that. We renegotiated a deal with South Korea. We’ve been opening access to markets all across the country.
But the President — the President made it clear in the course of that campaign that he believed that NAFTA had not served American workers and American jobs and American farmers well. And we promised to renegotiate that agreement, and that we did. I watched the President as he drove a hard bargain, and that’s why we need to approve the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, because it’s a win for American farmers and a win for American business — and workers. (Applause.)
It’s really why I’m here. It’s really why I’m here. I’ve been literally traveling all across the country over the last several months, talking about the USMCA and the difference that it’s going to make not only in agriculture, but in industries all across this economy.
But I wanted to come here, to California, here in the San Joaquin Valley, because you all understand the global impact of our agricultural economy and the need to have a trade deal here with our neighbors to the north and the south that really puts American agriculture first. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
I mean, here in California, this great state already exports more than $48 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico alone. And under the USMCA, we know that number is going to grow — which is going to create even more jobs and more opportunity in the city and on the farm, all across the San Joaquin Valley. (Applause.) It’s going to do it. I promise you.
When Congress finally ratifies the USMCA, we’ll have trading rules that support innovation by addressing biotechnology. Poultry producers are going to have new access to Canada for chicken and eggs, and expanded access for turkey.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Woo!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And the USMC —
Somebody is excited about that. (Laughter.) Making Thanksgiving plans over there. (Laughter.)
And the USMCA will update rules of origin for processed fruits to ensure preferences benefit U.S. producers, California. (Applause.) Okay?
The deal is also help ranchers and farmers sell more, at greater profits. Canada is going to end this “Class 6” and “Class 7” programs that allow cheap dairy products to undersell American dairy producers all around the world.
The USMCA is going to help countless farmers across the country and right here in California. That’s going to be especially true.
Like a dairy farmer from Riverdale, who is with us today, I’m told that he married the daughter of a dairy farmer. He’s been in the dairy business for 18 years. And all their dairy products go to California Dairies, whose biggest customer happens to be our neighbor to the south, in Mexico. And once the USMCA goes into effect, it’s all but certain that their dairy business is going to flourish like never before.
So would you join me in recognizing the proud owner of J&D Wilson and Sons: Jim Wilson. Jim, thanks for being here. (Applause.) Thanks for being such a great example of agriculture in California.
We also have with us the second- and third-generation owners of a dairy farm that’s about 15 miles down the road. It was founded in 1916 and is still family owned. That’s an incredible thing. They’re also a member of the same co-op as J&D Wilson. And they’re pillars of the community and they represent all that’s great about agriculture here in California. So would you join me in welcoming 90-year young Johnny Fagundes III and his proud son, John Fagundes IV? Where are you guys? (Applause.) There you are, men. Thank you. Thank you. Good to see you, Johnny.
You know, improving dairy sales is going to be good for Jim, John, and their family businesses. And Johnny is excited about it too. And I have to tell you, I watched this President drive a hard bargain, Johnny, on dairy, with Canada. You know, what they were doing up in Canada. And this President just stood firm and said, “It’s got to change.” He put American dairy first. And the USMCA is a win for American dairy. (Applause.)
And what’s good for dairy is also good for hay and feed farmers like Doug and Julie. And I know they’re just as excited about that. All right? I know it’s got to go in the front before it comes out the bottom. (Laughter.) We had some cows. That’s what I got.
In total, according to the International Trade Commission, the USMCA, we think, is actually going to add 176,000 jobs to our economy and $68 billion of investment. That’s real results. (Applause.) According to some conservative estimates, American exports to Canada are going to increase by $19 billion, and exports to Mexico are going to increase by $14 billion.
The ITC also tells us the USMCA will increase annual U.S. agricultural and food exports by $2.2 billion, all by itself. (Applause.) And that includes — and, Johnny, that includes $314 million in additional U.S. dairy exports. It’s going to happen.
It’s absolutely essential that we get the USMCA passed by the Congress because it’s going to finally give American farmers and American workers the level playing field that we need here all across North America to be able to compete and win.
And we’re simply not going to — we’re simply not going to allow, under this administration and this President — we’re not going to allow outdated trade deals to hurt American farmers or American workers anymore. (Applause.) That’s why we need the USMCA.
We’re not going to let trade deals undermine good jobs — the jobs that build and sustain our middle class and are rebuilding our middle class today.
But I’m here today to tell you the President has done his job; I was there watching him in the negotiations when he did it. And Canada and Mexico have reached an agreement. They’ve already begun to make progress in their legislative chambers in approving this agreement. So the President has done his job. Our neighbors have done their job. Now it’s time for Congress to do their job and pass the USMCA this year. (Applause.)
But make no mistake about it: You all are going to be the difference. The voice of American farmers needs to be heard as Congress takes up and considers this legislation in the weeks and months ahead. And I just want to tell you, the members of Congress in both political parties all across California need to hear from you. There is no force in America more powerful than the concerted voice of the American people. So, California farmers, let your voice be heard. (Applause.)
I want to encourage each and every one of you. Really, I hope you leave here today with a little bit of burden on your heart that you’re going to pick up the phone, make a respectful phone call to your local congressman in either political party, send them an e-mail, drop them a note, let them know just how — just say, “I ran into Mike the other day over at Doug and Julie’s.” (Laughter.) And you could say, “You know, I thought this USMCA was a good deal but I didn’t know it was that good a deal.” And it’s going to be good for California. It’s going to be good for America. And just tell them how important it is to you and to your community and to your farms and to your ranches.
I mean, the truth is we need the USMCA. We need the USMCA for San Joaquin Valley. We need it for California. And we need it for America. So go out there and tell the story. Tell people how this agreement is going to put American farmers and American workers first. And make no mistake about it: Your voice will make a difference.
And so let me just thank you all. Thank you all for being here today. And while I’m at it, my wife is — I think she’s visiting some beekeepers or something. (Laughter.) But we’re going to catch up in Vandenberg Air Force Base in a little bit. We flew out here today.
And, you know, there’s not a day goes by that we aren’t deeply humbled by the privilege that the American people and all of you have afforded us. So on behalf of my little family, can I just say “thank you”? Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Vice President at such a time as this. (Applause.) It’s the greatest honor of my life. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. And also, just thanks for being who you are. You know, I — you know, that book I try and open every morning has a phrase that says, “Consider the farmer.” So many times the Nazarene actually pointed to the farmer who not just tilled the soil but had the virtues of faith and character and generosity and neighborliness. And I just want you to know that as you contribute to our economy, your character and your faith contributes to this nation. So thank you for being who you are. (Applause.)
And in these challenging times in the life of our nation, where it seems like there’s more focus on what divides us any more than what unites us, I’ll always believe that there’s more that unites the American people than could ever divide us. And chief among that is faith. And so I encourage you to have faith. (Applause.)
Have faith in the American people and the ability of our nation to find our way forward, not just with deals like the USMCA, but to continue to advance policies that will make us more secure and more prosperous.
And have faith in the leaders that we’ve elected to every level, from that President on down, to keep the promise that we made to each and every one of you and keep fighting for every one of you.
And finally, just have faith that He who placed this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores will still surely bless America if we will just turn our hearts to him. (Applause.)
And so I encourage you to pray. Pray for America. Pray for all the people of America in this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Because prayer matters. I believe it with all my heart. (Applause.)
So with that, thank you again for coming out. I look forward to meeting as many of you as time permits. I’m just absolutely convinced that with the progress that we’ve made as a nation to this day, with new deals like the USMCA we’ll sign into law, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, we’re going to make California and America more prosperous than ever before. And to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again.
Thanks everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless America.
3:03 P.M. PDT