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DES MOINES - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey can't say what Donald Trump's farm policy will look like, but after meeting with the president, he expects an emphasis on opening markets and easing burdensome regulations.
'I think we got pieces of it,” Northey said after joining 13 other state ag officials, farmers, ag policy advocates and food producers and processors in a meeting with Trump at the White House Tuesday. 'It's hard to capture that whole policy in a short conversation.”
It was clear, Northey said, that Trump 'leaned very heavily on Sonny Perdue,” the newly-confirmed USDA secretary.
'As some of these issues would come up, he would turn and look at Secretary Purdue and say, ‘Can you give me some background on that?'” Northey reported. 'So we certainly got the sense that he highly respects his secretary of agriculture, that he wants to be engaged himself as president and wants to make the rest of the federal government work for ag producers as well.”
However, there were few specifics.
'I can't tell you what the administration is going to be pushing in the next farm bill,” said Northey, a third-term GOP secretary of agriculture.
The president talked about opening new markets for agricultural products as well as 'need to be firm in how we deal with trade partners,” he said. Another focus of the hourlong discussion was regulations that increase expenses for food producers and processors.
When Northey had a chance to address the president, he talked about ethanol.
'I mentioned we're a big ethanol production state and before I could even make an ask on ethanol, the president jumped in very quickly and said, ‘You know, I'm a big supporter of ethanol,'” he said. There wasn't time to get into details about E15 and waivers, but Trump reiterated his support.
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