President Donald Trump used a speech before a convention of farmers in New Orleans on Monday to make an extended defense of his call for funding for a border wall, a dispute which has spurred a partial government shutdown, making clear he will not accept anything less from Congress than full funding for his wall along the border with Mexico.
“We’re going to have a wall, we’re going to have a barrier, we’re going to have something that’s going to be very strong,” the President said to cheers at the 100th gathering of the American Farm Bureau.
“When it comes to keeping the American people safe, I will never, ever back down,” the President told farmers. “I didn’t need this fight,” as he pointed the finger of blame directly at Democrats.
“The government remains shut down for one reason and for one reason only – the Democrats will not fund border security,” Mr. Trump said.
Some of the biggest applause for the President came as he promised to make it much easier for U.S. farmers to get immigrant laborers into the country, in order to pick crops.
“We’re going to actually make it easier,” the President said, “because you need these people.”
In his speech before the American Farm Bureau, the President spent much of his time focused on immigration, saying little about issues which have created financial troubles for farmers, like retaliatory tariffs levied on exports of U.S. farm exports, which have cost them agricultural markets, especially in China.
As for the partial government shutdown – which includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the President glossed over the impact of the shutdown on U.S. farmers:
+ He took credit for the signing of a major farm policy bill late last year – but didn’t mention that the shutdown has delayed implementation of the measure.
+ The President touted billions of dollars in bailout payments for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs – but didn’t say that the shutdown has halted those payments to farmers.
+ The President touted his support for year round availability of E15 ethanol – but didn’t mention that the shutdown is delaying work to make sure that can happen.
But it didn’t seem to matter to the crowd, including Arizona rancher Jim Chilton, who was called to the podium by the President.
“Mr. President, we need a wall,” Chilton said to a standing ovation.