Council Bluffs, Iowa - President Trump on Renewable Energy at the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, Council Bluffs, Iowa:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Iowa. We love Iowa. Thank you very much. And I want to thank Senator Ernst for the introduction. Her — the job she’s done and the great leadership she’s displayed. And I want to tell you she worked very hard on ethanol, along with Senator Grassley, and Kim, and everybody else. And I want to thank you all. Thank you, Governor. I appreciate it.
I’m truly delighted — (applause) — they worked hard. I’m truly delighted to be here with the incredible farmers, growers, and workers who power our country, feed our nation, and preserve the American way of life. And that’s what you do.
Today, we honor America’s cherished farming heritage. We salute your commitment to American energy independence, and we celebrate the bright future that we are forging together powered by clean, affordable American ethanol. Congratulations. Congratulations. (Applause.)
You know, I fought very hard for ethanol, but you proved me right. Thank you. Please, sit down. Sit down. Otherwise, they’ll say I got no standing ovations. (Laughter.) Appreciate it.
We’re grateful to be joined by our tremendously talented — loves this business — Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Thank you, Sonny. Thank you. (Applause.) And EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Andrew, thank you very much. Great job you’re doing, both of you. (Applause.)
Thanks as well to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Thank you, Kim. (Applause.) Great job. She ran a great race.
And a great friend of mine also: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. Pete, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Pete.
And another tremendous person, tremendous woman — a winner; somebody that helps us all so much: Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska. (Applause.) Deb Fischer. Thank you, Deb.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. Thank you, Mike. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Mike. Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Steve Wellman. Steve, thank you. (Applause.) The Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, Jean Stothert. (Applause.) Thank you, Jean.
We had a big fight in Omaha and we won that one pretty easily. A certain person was spending a lot of money against us. That didn’t work out so well for him.
And many other state and local leaders. I want to thank you all for being here. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
I also want to thank the CEO of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, Mike Jerke. And I will tell you, I met mike a long time ago, and I said, “Let’s do this.” And other candidates all said, “Nope, we’re not going to support ethanol.” And I did. Is that a correct statement? And look what you’ve built, Mike. Great job.
But thank you very much for hosting us today, along with two other great energy leaders, President of Renewable Fuels Association Geoff Cooper and CEO of Growth Energy Emily Skor. Thank you all very much. Thank you, Emily. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
We came here and talked ethanol, and people didn’t believe in us, right? And now it’s a big beauty. And E15 sounds very good, doesn’t it? Who knows, maybe it’s going to go up. Maybe it’s going to go up. (Applause.)
Right here at this impressive facility, the rich harvest of American soil is turned into fuel that powers American cars and industries. Farmers from across the region send in more than 120,000 bushels of corn to produce 365,000 gallons of pure American ethanol every single day. I just got a little run-through back there. It’s very impressive. That’s a long way from our first conversation, isn’t it? It’s a long way. You’ve come a long way. So have I; I became President — (applause) — would you think. (Laughs.)
Under the previous administration, our leaders rejected American energy and they rejected ethanol. They imposed radical restrictions on our farmers and ethanol producers. And they refused to even allow talk of E15 during the busiest driving months of the year. And as you know, we took it from 8 months to 12 beautiful months. That’s another big factor. (Applause.) All year long.
And how ridiculous was that? How ridiculous was that? But we took it all year long, not the very shortened year. And nobody could explain to me why. Not one person was able to explain why they cut it off. Just one of those things. But we ended it.
As a candidate for President, I pledged to support our ethanol industry and to fight for the American farmer like no President has ever fought before. And we’re winning these fights. And you’re great patriots, I will tell you. We’re winning these fights. (Applause.)
You know, for 15 years — before the election of 2016 — farmers and farm pricing and a lot of things were going in this direction. You have to see the charts. They weren’t pretty. And in a very short period of time — we’re still working on China. Japan is going to be a big buyer very shortly. They told me the other day, “We’re going to be buying a lot of — a lot of product from your famers.” And a lot of other places you see them coming in and they’re starting to come in very big — very, very big.
Mexico, you see what happened over the last two days. And Mexico is going to be a lot of buying. A lot of buying. (Applause.)
Within a year and a half, I would say you’ll be in the best position that you’ve been in in 15 years as farmers. And you deserve it. You deserve it.
Last year, I came right here to Iowa and announced that my administration would open up the sale of E15 all year around. And now I’ve come back to announce that, just days ago, we officially lifted the restrictions — you hear that, Joni, Deb, Pete? You hear that, Kim? A few days ago, we lifted — (applause) — right? We lifted the restrictions on E15 just in time to fuel America’s summer vacations. We just made it. (Applause.) We just made it. (Applause.)
That’s a nice group behind me. I don’t know. Their seats are no good, but they’re going to become very famous tomorrow. (Applause.) We’ll make their seat very good. They’re happy. They’re happy because of what we’ve done and because of how well our country is doing and our economy is doing.
As a result of our action, E15 sales are projected to more than double this year. Think of that. More than double. Do you agree with that? More than double. (Applause.) More American ethanol production also means less dependence on foreign suppliers. By fully embracing E15 — (applause) — we will reduce dependence on foreign oil by up to 250 million additional barrels every single year. I mean — (applause) — quite simply, it means more energy. And what can be wrong with that? And it’s very good energy.
That means our farmers are not only promoting our prosperity; you are protecting our security as a nation. (Applause.)
America must never again be held hostage to foreign suppliers of energy as we were under the Obama-Biden — Sleepy Joe — group. Sleepy Joe. (Applause.) He was someplace in Iowa today, and he said my name so many times that people couldn’t stand it anymore. “No, don’t keep saying it.” Sleepy guy.
With the help of energy grown and produced at home, we’ve increased annual ethanol exports by 550 million gallons. Last year, we exported a record-breaking 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol — that’s a big number — and, separately, the United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere on the planet. We’re the biggest in the world in energy production. And now, ethanol is playing a bigger and bigger part. So, congratulations. (Applause.)
And this isn’t political season quite for me. It’ll start next week. But just remember the Democrats were totally opposed to this, folks. They didn’t have a clue.
After decades of being held down and held back, we are now a net exporter of energy to the world with a tremendous increase of jobs in the energy industry. We are securing our nation’s future through American energy independence and American energy dominance. And that’s what it is. It’s become dominant.
At the same time, the fuel you produce brings down prices at the pump for millions of American drivers. Those savings go straight into the pockets of hardworking families all across our land.
Here with us today are several Americans at the center of our nation’s energy revolution who want to share why ethanol is so important to them.
Kevin Ross is a sixth-generation farmer from the nearby town of Minden. Kevin, please come up and share your story. Kevin. (Applause.)
MR. ROSS: Thank you. Welcome, Mr. President, to the great state of Iowa. Governor Reynolds, Governor Ricketts, Senator Ernst, Senator Fischer, Administrator Wheeler, and Secretary Perdue: Thank you all for being here. It’s my privilege to host you near my home and represent farmers all across the Midwest today.
I’m Kevin Ross, a sixth-generation farmer and first Vice President of the National Corn Growers Association. My wife Sarah and I grow corn, soybeans, hay, cattle, and are raising our four boys: Hudson, Axten, Carver, and Hollis. Also in this large crowd are family and a few hundred friends and neighbors.
We farm just 20 miles up the road near Underwood, in Minden. But we are steps away from land that my great- grandfather cleared on this very Missouri River bottom.
Mr. President, Secretary Perdue, and Administrator Wheeler, I want to sincerely thank you for setting direction to the EPA and making 15 percent ethanol blends available year round, bridging a gap to higher blends. You see, folks, I’m well aware of the conversations that the President held at the White House with colleagues, farmers, and my Iowa senators almost a year ago. I especially want to thank you, Senator Ernst. In those conversations, sir, you heard of the benefits of E15, and, best of all, you listened. Thank you. (Applause.)
Just a couple months later, you gave direction to EPA to finalize the E15 rules. And here we are today: done. (Applause.) Mr. President, you delivered on E15, but we have more work to do. The EPA’s oil refinery waivers threaten to undo your good works. I ask that you listen again because the pain that the ethanol and biodiesel industries have endured is holding back a farm economy that has further capacity to produce more clean air and clean liquid fuels for this country.
Mr. President, around here, we have acres of clean air, (inaudible) 30,000 plants at a time. This is the corn state. And here in the greater Midwest, well, this is corn country. (Applause.)
I also know you have long-term goals for a bill to get on desk on infrastructure. The needs for this were evident before, but with the destructive spring that this area, and so many other places across the nation have endured as well, this need is more glaring. I implore you to next tackle this with the same tenacity and vigor that you have with border security and other issues.
I work in the greatest in- — (applause) — thank you. Yes. (Applause.) I work in the greatest industry we have in this country, and that’s agriculture. We are blessed by God to have (inaudible) and the science that have let us achieve new heights in production. Whether that’s yield of corn, the efficiency of this ethanol plant or gains in my cattle, agriculture continues to do more with less.
Sir, I was just a 4-H-er and an FAA farm kid that grew up with a dream to farm. My background is not unique in rural America because every one of these proud Americans out here could’ve gotten up here and told their own similar story. These boys of mine may grow up to farm, possibly be a future President. An economically healthy rural America, though, is what will give them that opportunity.
Agriculture gives back more than its weight in food, fuel, fiber, and people that love this country. The economic benefits and the clean air delivered through biofuels are wins for the seventh generation on my family farm and wins for all U.S. citizens.
President Trump, keep winning with stronger support for these policies and the agricultural sector in the United States — great United States of America.
Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. ROSS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Kevin. Wow. Thank you, Kevin. Great job. I’d like also to invite Kenny Wilcox up. He trains new employees here in Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy. Kenny — where’s Kenny? Kenny? Come on up here, Kenny. (Applause.) Great job you’re doing, Kenny.
MR. WILCOX: Thank you. It’s an honor.
What SIRE and the ethanol industry has meant to me: I started my career here in 2012 and moved through the company into various positions to better myself in the company.
SIRE has a dedicated team that is able to train individuals to give them opportunities for various work skills that doesn’t necessary pertain to just ethanol.
Not only has the ethanol industry helped me; it’s helped my beautiful wife fulfill her dreams. And it’s been amazing to see her excel in all aspects of her job and take on new jobs with a “willing to go after anything to fulfill her dreams” attitude.
Ethanol plants are creating jobs and helping fuel the U.S. economy. Just in 2018, the industry has created over 70,000 workers. This does not include other companies that have started because of ethanol plants.
My research has shown that one in four of those workers is a veteran, which a huge positive keeping our veterans to have stability after life in the military. (Applause.)
I have a lot of friends that are veterans — all who were confused on what they were going to do once they were out. Ethanol plants were able to create some of these jobs for them with little-to-no experience.
Since I’ve been here, SIRE has been pretty incredible to see companies starting up because of the up-rise of the ethanol industry. These all have created a lot of jobs for people around here, and I feel the best is yet to come for us in the community.
We hear a lot about ethanol is not good and so-forth, but a lot of that information people get is false. I think people can look at the improvements that have been made and all the jobs that have been created by these plants, such as, but not limited to, welders, feedlots, enzyme companies, and electricians.
One of our biggest benefits is the uproar of our trade schools that pertain a lot of jobs around here. I seem to think a lot of these things get overlooked by people.
Thank you, President Donald Trump, for taking time to come here and address these ongoing struggles for the ethanol industry. And make America great again. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Kenny. Well done. Thank you very much.
And also with us is Randy Gard, who sells E15 across the region and all over the nation. Randy, please come up and tell us what it means. Tell us what you’re doing and how we’re making out. I think you’re doing pretty good, by the way. Come up, Randy. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. GARD: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Randy Gard. I’m the chief operating officer at Bosselman Pump & Pantry, Bosselman Enterprises, located in Grand Island, Nebraska. And I am also a member of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.
So, here’s what I know: Today is a great day for the American farmer. Today is a great day for the ethanol industry. Today is a great day for fuel retailers. And it’s a great day for the American consumer. Am I right? (Applause.)
So bear with me and let me tell you our story. Bosselman Pump & Pantry convenience stores are located in Grand Island, Nebraska. Back in 2016, when Charlie and Brandi Bosselman asked me to take a look at fuel and see if those E15 thing made any sense, we looked at it and thought it’s a competitive advantage. We talked to some of our customers and the customers said, “We’d like to try it.”
So we started to install the infrastructure, started to put all the marketing information behind it, and we came up with something fairly simple but compelling. We said E15 is simply better fuel and it costs less. And it was easy for our employees at our stores to articulate, easy for our customers to understand, and it must have worked because, if you look at it, in 2017, our sales of E15 increased over 300 percent. (Applause.) In 2018, they went up another 225 percent. (Applause.) And with the help of President Trump opening the door for year-round E15, our newest projections for this year show an increase of another 400 percent. (Applause.)
Now, with only 10 percent — approximately 10 percent of the convenience stores in Nebraska currently offer E15. There’s a huge, huge market opportunity. And I want to encourage retailers: Don’t be afraid of it. Your customers love it. Our customers love it. Hey, numbers don’t lie, right?
So — and I’m also proud to say that I live in the second-greatest ethanol production state, right next to Iowa. (Applause.)
So, when it comes to deals, Mr. Trump, being one or two in ethanol is a big deal. So — (applause) — so a couple of things: President Trump, thank you for opening the door to E15 year-round sales and driving our economy. (Applause.)
On behalf of Bosselman Enterprises, the Bosselman family, the Ethanol Board, RFN, RFA. Once again, thank you. You have opened a world of opportunity for us. And thank you, President Trump, most of all for watching out for rural America. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Randy. And thank you all. Thank you all.
By unlocking the power of American agriculture and American energy, we are fueling our roaring economy — and that’s what you’re doing. Thank you. Fantastic job. America is now the hottest economy anywhere on Earth. We have the number-one economy — and acknowledged — on Earth.
Unemployment is at the lowest level in over 51 years — soon to be broken. (Applause.) We’ll break that record shortly.
Since the election, we’ve created nearly 6 million jobs. And, frankly, if I would have said that during the election, the fake-news media would not have believed it. They would not. (Applause.) They would not have found that acceptable. If I ever used that number, they would have said there’s no way.
Nearly 900,000 fewer Americans rely on part-time work right now because they have full-time jobs. (Applause.) And you’ve heard me say this before, and I’m very proud of it: African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels in recorded history in this country. (Applause.)
Wages are growing, and they are growing at the fastest rate for — this is something so wonderful — for blue-collar workers. (Applause.) The biggest percentage increase — blue-collar workers. And over the next three months, companies are expected to hire workers at the fastest pace in more than a decade, with the greatest gains for workers right here in the Midwest. We have the number-one location for gain. You know that. (Applause.)
Past administrations did nothing while the farm income declined. In the last two years of the previous administration, farm income plummeted by more than $30 billion, and agricultural exports dropped by over $22 billion. Did you know that? Did you know that? You’ll be hearing it a lot over the next little while. That’s not a good number.
But we are turning it all around, and we’ve turned it all around. And wait until you see the real number start coming in, when it all comes together. Somebody had to do it. You knew we had to do it. We couldn’t take it any longer. Nations all over the world were ripping off the United States like never, ever before — whether it’s China or so many others that I won’t mention, including our allies. Sometimes our allies did a better job of it than the enemies. But we’re changing it all around, and you see it already. And you see it by the kind of numbers that I’m talking about.
By the end of this year, farm incomes are projected to rise by more than $10 billion from the day I was elected. And under my administration, we will always protect and defend our great American patriot farmer. (Applause.) Always. Always. Thank you very much.
We’re reversing decades of failed trade policies, opening up new markets, and fighting to give our farmers the fair and level playing field they deserve. You never had a fair playing field for the last 15 to 20 years. You were taken advantage of by stupidity, by incompetence, by people that don’t care. Who knows? You were really treated very badly. But you’re not being treated badly anymore. You see what’s happening. (Applause.)
The brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the USMCA, will replace NAFTA — one of the worst deals ever made by any country, on trade — and expand market access for American agricultural products, and very, very substantially. With that being said, you have to get out and push the Democrats to put it up. Because they’d rather see our country do badly than give us a victory. And, actually, it’s going to be a victory for them too, if they get it approved. And they could use a victory.
So, go out — go out and press the Democrats. Everyone in your area, press. We need the help of the Democrats. Press Nancy Pelosi. Press them all. Because if they don’t put it up, it’s a tremendous opportunity — probably something like you won’t see again. Got to get it done. It’s incredible for the farmer, for the manufacturer, for virtually everybody. It’s going to go down as one of the greatest trade deals. Already acknowledged to be one of the best negotiated trade deals.
But if you look at Canada, with the tremendous tariffs they were charging you to sell you product inside, and Mexico, it’s all a much more balanced, much more fair transaction. You’re going to make a lot of money. You’re going to grow a lot of corn and a lot of everything else. You got to get the Democrats to approve it. You got to get the Democrats — all they have to do is put it up for a vote. Because many Democrats — probably most Democrats — if not told to do the other alternative, they will all vote for it. So get the Democrats out. Put it up for a vote. And let’s get — let’s get it signed. It’s all ready. (Applause.) It’s all ready.
The USMCA ends unfair trade barriers for American dairy farmers, wheat producers, egg producers, and winegrowers. And it will ensure robust market access for American exports of corn, beef, pork, poultry, and many other farm products from coast to coast. It’s a winner. And we just wanted to do pretty much the opposite. How bad was NAFTA — what they did to you with NAFTA? And that’s why, for 15 years, you’ve been going — that and other reasons. That’s why the farmer has been hurt so badly over a 15-year period.
This deal is amazing for our farmers. And I’m proud to announce that nearly 1,000 farm groups have already endorsed it this morning. And the biggest groups. (Applause.) So it’s time for Congress to bring this groundbreaking agreement up for a vote.
We’re also taking long-overdue steps to stand up to China’s chronic trade abuses. Have to do it. (Applause.) Somebody had to do it. They’ve been taking out of our country, for many years, 500 billion — with a “B” — billion dollars a year. And somebody had to say “no more.” And Obama-Biden didn’t say it. They just let it happen. And, in all fairness, so did other Presidents. We’re stopping it. It’s stopped.
And we’re taking in, right now, billions and billions of dollars in tariffs, and they’re subsidizing product. And, by the way, I haven’t seen any inflation. We are taking in billions. And out of those billions that we’re taking in in tariffs, we gave the farmer $16 billion because that was the highest amount that China had ever used to purchase your product. Sixteen billion. So we took it right out of the tariffs that we’re getting from China. And, Sonny Perdue, you’re going to be distributing that to all of the farmers over the next, probably, two months, right? (Applause.) Nobody else is going to do that, I can tell you. Nobody else does that.
For years, China imposed massive barriers to the American farm goods, stole our intellectual property, and plundered vital trade secrets from even American agri-business. You know, they would take — your business has become very sophisticated. And they and other nations would take these beautiful, incredible secrets — no different than computers and other things — and they’d use them, and they’d take them, and they wouldn’t pay for them. And that’s not right. Because you’re the ones that developed them.
Our colossal trade deficits financed the build-up of China’s infrastructure, military, and technology at the expense of us, the American taxpayer.
Now, in response to our economic self-defense, China has levied unfair retaliation against the farmers and ranchers, but we’ve made up for that retaliation with the $16 billion. And, I must tell you, made up for it and more so. And more so. (Applause.) And, again, we had no choice. We want to get along with China, but we had no choice. I have great respect for the President of China, President Xi, but he’s representing China and I’m representing the United States of America. Nothing much you can do about that. (Applause.)
And all around the world, my administration is knocking down barriers to products made, grown, and raised in the USA — not only on the farm, but all over. Just recently reached an agreement to eliminate restrictions and expand exports of American beef — you saw that — to Japan by up to $200 million a year. You saw that. There’s somebody selling beef over there. (Applause.) They haven’t bought our beef since the year 2000.
The European Union removed barriers on U.S. soybeans for the use in biofuels. Everybody said they’ll never do that. We have a long way to go with that, but it’s going to happen very easily.
Argentina and Paraguay opened their markets to American pork. It was a one-sided deal before. Now their markets are opening rapidly.
And after suspending imports in 2016, Vietnam agreed to reopen its market to dried distillers grains — a high-value byproduct — and produced by ethanol plants just like this one. I got to look at it; it’s pretty good-looking stuff. Vietnam. (Applause.)
In the past, and under the Obama administration, our politicians let other countries push us around, treat us badly, treat our country with no respect. And you see that with Biden. We would never be treated with respect because people don’t respect him, even the people that he’s running against. They’re saying, “Where is he? What happened?”
He makes his stance in Iowa once every two weeks and then he mentions my name 74 times in one speech. (Laughter.) I don’t know. That reminds me of Crooked Hillary. She did the same thing. (Laughter and applause.) And then, when it came time to vote, they all said, “You know, she doesn’t like Trump very much, but what else does she stand for?” The same thing is happening with Sleepy Joe. He’s a sleepy guy.
As we stand up for our farmers abroad, we are fighting to get the governments from other countries, and our government in particular, off of your farms and out of your wallets, and put them right back where it used to be many, many, many decades ago. We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history, by far. (Applause.)
And to keep your family farms and ranches in the family, we eliminated the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” on the small farms and ranches and other businesses. (Applause.) That was a big one. That was big one.
No, people were having a farm, they loved their children, and they want to leave it to their children. And some of them aren’t cash businesses, but they’re great businesses, and the farms have real value. And something would happen to them; they want to leave it to their children. And the estate tax was so much, the children would have to go out and borrow a lot of money from unfriendly bankers, in many cases. And they’d end up losing the farm, and it was a horrible situation. We’ve eliminated the death tax. That’s a great thing. That’s a great thing. (Applause.)
And it’s only good, though, if you love your children. (Laughter.) I say it all the time: If you don’t love you children and if you don’t like your children, but especially if you don’t love them — does anybody here not love their children? (Laughter.) Because if you don’t love your children, it’s not going to mean a damn. (Laughter.)
We slashed 30,000 pages of job-killing regulations from the Federal Register. That’s an all-time record in the history of our country. (Applause.) And we got rid of the horrible, disastrous calamity known as the Waters of the United States rule. (Applause.)
And I tell you, Joni and Deb, I was getting ready to sign that one. You know, the Waters of the United States rule. What could be more beautiful sounding? That was the only thing good about it — the title. Everything else was a catastrophe. They took your land away. If you had a puddle in the middle of your field, they considered it a lake. The rules and regulations made it impossible.
And I signed that, and behind me I had homebuilders and farmers mostly, and ranchers. And many of them never cried in their life, including when they born, and they were crying. Yeah. (Laughter.) It’s true, though. They were crying behind me. You know that. You know that, Pete. They were crying because we gave them back their land. We took it away. It was like eminent domain. It was terrible. We gave it back.
And, you know, I thought it was going to be a tough time for a while, and it wasn’t. People got it, and they got it right away. And that was a great honor for you folks. That was a great honor. Thank you. (Applause.)
And last year, I signed into law a historic farm bill, which increased the amount farmers can borrow to start, improve, and expand their businesses. You know that.
We secured nearly $1.2 billion to expand rural broadband, which you need very badly. (Applause.) You need very badly. They have not treated the Midwest well with broadband, with anything having to do with the word “computer.” I look at some of those tractors, and they don’t even hook up. They’re all set, but you don’t have the capability here, in terms of your infrastructure. So we’ll be taking care of that shortly.
We’re taking bold action to deploy high-speed 5G networks, and we’re bringing prosperity to distressed rural communities across America through Opportunity Zones. By the way, Opportunity Zones — it’s been incredible. And Tim Scott really helped us with that. Tim Scott. (Applause.) Great state of South Carolina. Tim Scott was incredible on Opportunity Zones, and they are taking off like nobody would have believed. Nobody thought they’d be so successful as they are.
We’re delivering the support of the federal government to help you overcome flooding and other natural disasters that have caused such terrible destruction.
I flew in today in Air Force One, and I look outside and I’m looking at water where I used to see fields. I came here many times and I’d see fields. And now I’m looking at water. It’s incredible. It still hasn’t receded enough. But it will be. Joni, it will be. Deb, it will be. Pete, right? Kim, it’s getting there.
And we just did another little emergency because something happened. After it ended, something happened and your Governor — your great Governor of Iowa — asked for some help. Your great Governor of Nebraska asked for some additional help, and we’re giving it to him. So you’ll be able to work that out. You need it. (Applause.)
And FEMA has committed to spend over $150 million in Iowa and Nebraska to respond to the catastrophic additional flooding that’s been taking place. Never seen anything like it.
At our urging, we are finally starting to see some progress on better forest management. Remember I went to California? I saw something that nobody has ever seen. It was like a blowtorch. It was 80-mile-an-hour winds and the death and destruction was incredible. And I said, “You need forest management.” They were saying it was global warming. Could’ve had something to do with it. But you need forest management.
You can’t let 15 and 20 years of leaves and broken trees and deadwood — that after the first 18 months is dry as a bone — you can’t let that be there. You have to clean it. You have to clean those floors of the forest. And you’re going to see a big difference. And, actually, they mocked me. They said, “Oh, what’s he doing? He’s talking about sweeping the floors.” Well, I don’t use the word “sweeping,” but you have to have forest management.
And all of a sudden, about four weeks after that happened, they learned I was right. And now they are managing the forests, at least as much as they could. They have a long way to go because there’s a lot of it. But when you look every year, year after year, you see California mostly burning down. It’s management. And I think they’re going to do a much better job.
Last week, I signed legislation to provide $4.5 billion in disaster relief for agriculture, farmers, and all of the folks that we love. We also secured $670 million to repair Air Force facilities, including Offutt Air Force Base — (applause) — only a few miles from where we stand today. We just left some great generals and colonels. And they were very happy to hear, but they got hit very hard, as you know. It’s a very important base.
In a moment, I’m going to be signing right there an executive order to speed up reviews of biotechnology so that farmers can get access to critical scientific advances faster, and reap the full benefits of American innovation for many years into the future. That’s right there. (Applause.)
And, every day, we’re working to deliver for America’s farmers just as they work every day to deliver for us. Thank you very much. You deliver for us. (Applause.) Incredible people. We never go hungry. You really do. You deliver for us. Through bad times and good times, you deliver.
We know that our nation was founded by farmers. Our independence was won by farmers. Our continent was settled by farmers. Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers. Our armies were made of farmers. And throughout our history, farmers have always led the way. They’re our special people.
Just a few days ago, Melania and I returned from Europe, where we commemorated the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in the Second World War. It was an incredible ceremony, a beautiful ceremony. (Applause.) And in that great crusade, thousands of American farm boys sailed halfway around the world and gave their youth, gave their tears, their blood, and gave their lives, in many cases, for our country and for our freedom. Many farm boys.
We must never forget that in that historic endeavor — D-Day — the greatest strength of our army came from the incredible heart of our people. That noble spirit of patriotism will always thrive in the homes of America’s heartland.
America’s farmers are not just the keepers of a cherished legacy. You are the guardians of a way of life — a great, beautiful way of life. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
You love this land because it’s a part of you. You pour out your sweat, your love, and your devotion into this soil each and every day.
From generation to generation, you pass down that tradition of American grit, American skill, and American pride. Such great pride.
Throughout our history, America’s farmers have always been there to keep our country strong and independent and free.
And that is why, every day of my presidency, we will never stop fighting for our farmers, or for our country, and for our great American flag. Never stop. (Applause.) Because we know that farm country is God’s country. (Applause.)
Thank you all for our nation’s farmers. May God bless you, and may God bless America! Thank you very much, everybody.