Trump signs farm bill
December 20, 2018
In a signing ceremony that included remarks on many other topics, President Donald Trump today signed a new five-year farm bill and praised a cutback in food stamp eligibility after tweeting his own singing of the theme from the TV series "Green Acres" with actress Megan Mullally of "Will & Grace" at the 2005 Emmys.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Trump signed the farm bill the same day that the Agriculture Department proposed a rule that will achieve some of the goals on limiting access to food stamps – formally the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – that House Republicans failed to achieve in the farm bill.
Apparently after the video of him singing the theme from "Green Acres" was shown, Trump started off the signing ceremony by saying, according to a White House transcript, "That was from the Emmys. I sang 'Green Acres' and received a very nice award that night. That was really great. So we had that. Somebody had it. I said, 'Put it on. Not too much of it, but put it on.'"
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After thanking Vice President Mike Pence and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and others for their presence and asking National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner if he had "any relation to Chuck Connor, the great actor…Huh?…No? He was pretty good," Trump said, "Some of our great political geniuses we have with us today. And you think this was an easy one? You know? They think it was easy; it was not an easy one. But we have to take care of our farmers and our ranchers, and we will take care of them."
Trump also noted the presence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., who, he said, "had a very easy race. Right? And she ended up winning by a lot."
Of Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Trump said, "She's tough, I can tell you. We competed with her. She's tough and she's smart, and does a great job. Thank you very much, Debbie. Really good job."
After acknowledging many House members, Trump pointed out the presence of House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.: "Hi, Collin. Good job. Good job. Very nice."
In a reference to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Trump said the bill might not have passed, "but I didn't want to talk to Pat about that, so we passed it."
After references to the criminal justice reform bill that passed the House and Senate, the battle over the wall with Mexico that may lead to a government shutdown, and a conversation with President Xi of China about fentanyl, Trump declared the farm bill "a bipartisan success – something you don't hear too much about."
He then thanked Roberts and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for their efforts, and noted Perdue's 72nd birthday.
After praising the bill's provisions for farmers, Trump added that he had directed Perdue "to use his authority under the law to close work requirement loopholes in the food stamp program."
"Today's action will help Americans transition from welfare to gainful employment, strengthening families and uplifting communities," Trump said. "And that was a difficult thing to get done, but the farmers wanted it done; we all wanted it done. And I think, in the end, it's going to make a lot of people very happy. It's called 'work rules.' And Sonny is able, under this bill, to implement them through regulation."
Trump invited Perdue to join him in signing the bill, and Perdue responded, "Mr. President, you can tell by the temperature in this room today, it's a great day for agriculture. It's a delight to have so many members of Congress here, with the leaders, and chairman of the committee who worked so hard, the ranking members. We've got many members of USDA staff here who have worked hand in hand with your committees over this working of the farm bill, on both sides, and I'm very proud of the work they've done."
–The Hagstrom Report