Grassley Receives Agricultural Retailers Association’s Legislator of the Year Award
WASHINGTON – The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recognized U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa with its 2018 “Legislator of the Year” award. He also gave a speech to the organization that can be found below.
“We are pleased to honor Senator Chuck Grassley this year with our Legislator of the Year award,” the Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock said. “We are grateful for his dedication and continued support of the agriculture industry.”
A longtime supporter of agriculture and agriculture retailers, this is the second time Grassley has been honored as ARA Legislator of the Year.
“Iowa is an agricultural powerhouse. As a leading producer of pork, corn, soybeans and eggs, agriculture anchors Iowa’s economy and helps put food on tables across America,” Sen. Grassley said. “Supporting workers and businesses that help Iowa’s farmers succeed has been a top priority during my time in the Senate. It’s an honor to receive this recognition.”
ARA presents its Legislator of the Year award annually to a member, or members, of Congress who champion legislation important to the agricultural retail industry. The awards were presented during the ARA Board of Directors and Committee Meetings in Washington, D.C.
Grassley posted an Instagram of the award that can be found here.
Text of his speech can be found below:
Good Morning. Thank you for inviting me to be with you today. I appreciate the opportunity to update you on a very important priority we share in common. And that’s our advocacy for the farm economy and American agriculture.
First, let me say I’m honored to receive this award from the Agriculture Retailers Association. It’s an honor for me to serve in the U.S. Senate. I’m grateful to wake up each morning to go to work for Iowans. So, being recognized for that work as your “Legislator of the Year” is very much appreciated.
I’m told I earned this distinction for my work leading the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During my chairmanship, we successfully confirmed 85 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. This historic record includes two Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And it includes 30 circuit court appointments. That’s the most ever in the first two years of any presidency.
As you will recall, the federal judiciary became a big issue in 2016. The direction of the highest court in the land was at stake. Voters weighed in and delivered a message. They agreed with President Trump and the nation’s Founders. The third branch of government isn’t authorized to write the laws. And neither is the President. That’s my job as an elected representative.
Consider the flawed WOTUS rule handed down during the Obama administration. It would’ve put American agriculture under the yoke of burdensome, government overreach. Contrary to congressional intent, WOTUS would’ve twisted the Clean Water Act and defined 97 percent of Iowa as a waterway. 97 percent. Let me tell you. That’s 100 percent wrong.
As many of you know, I’m a family farmer. And I understand what every farmer has understood for generations. Our way of life and our livelihoods depend on protecting Earth’s natural resources. That includes the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil in which we grow our food. It impacts our families and neighbors, 365 days a year. It’s a fact of life that our stewardship decisions affect our way of life and our livelihoods.
I don’t have to remind you that common sense is in short supply here in Washington. Don’t forget, we just endured the longest government shutdown in history. More people in this town need to remember that the government serves the people. When it’s shut down, it’s not serving the people. The shutdown delayed work at the USDA to implement the new farm bill, for example. It confirms something I figured out a long time ago. Washington is an island surrounded by reality. It needs a daily dose of Midwestern common sense. I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Our system of checks and balances keeps “the powers that be” accountable to the people. For example, by rescinding the flawed WOTUS rule, the Trump administration gave key stakeholders the opportunity to share their views.
Speaking of getting crops in the ground, today is the sixth of February. Planting season is just around the corner. A few days ago, the famous Groundhog did NOT see his shadow. Legend tells us that means we are due for an early spring. Whether or not you trust the Groundhog’s prediction, I can tell you that farmers aren’t hibernating for the next month and a half. Back in Iowa, tens of thousands of farmers are busy making plans for the next growing season.
They depend on your input to get their best output. Your innovation is a vital piece of American agriculture that brings food, feed and fuel to the world.
As a U.S. Senator, I do my best to plant seeds of prosperity to keep the economic landscape growing in Rural America. We need the right mix of seeds -- taxes, immigration and trade – that allows competition in the free marketplace to drive growth, innovation and productivity. Sound familiar? A strong economy depends on good input to get good output.
Farmers rely on the right mix of seeds, insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers to get the best yield. They also need Mother Nature to cooperate. During the 116th Congress, lawmakers will need a bicameral blend of bipartisanship to achieve the Mother Lode: tax, trade, health care and immigration policies – that will keep the economy growing in Rural America.
For the next two years, I’ll serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. First, let me make one item on my agenda crystal clear. Efforts by the Democrats to roll back tax cuts that we enacted at the end of 2017 will be dead on arrival in my committee. My agenda will focus on building upon the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, not gutting it. I want to provide permanent tax relief for farmers, including permanent repeal of the confiscatory federal estate tax.
Farmers across the country are heading into tax season, which officially started last week. I know this first year of filing taxes under the new tax rules will take some getting used to. And, the government shut down did not help the IRS with its efforts to be 100-percent ready to answer questions as quickly as we’d like. But, IRS officials have told us that the system is up and running, and assistance is available to help taxpayers and tax preparers.
There are three things I’d ask you to do this year, as you file your returns. First, be patient if you need to contact the IRS. It’s the agency everybody loves to hate. But it’s also an agency with a dedicated workforce who work hard to make the filing season successful. Second, take a moment after you finish your return to look at your taxes paid, not just the size of any refund. While your income likely changes from year to year, the percentage of taxes paid should go down -- in most cases -- over what you paid in 2017. That’s the tax relief we wanted to provide for farmers and their families in Iowa and every state.
Lastly, if there are issues with the new tax law, please let me know. I’m committed to improving on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and working with my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats – to make sure our tax law works so you can spend your time and money growing our agricultural economy.
Another high priority on my agenda is trade. We need to expand market access for our agricultural products and services. So let’s talk trade. First, the good news. President Trump scored a big victory with the new trilateral agreement known as USMCA, which modernizes NAFTA for our 21st century economy. I’m thrilled the President secured a stronger agreement with Iowa’s top two trading partners. But I’m also very aware that American agriculture is shouldering the brunt of ongoing trade disputes with many of our top trading partners.
That has increased the uncertainty in farm country. Years of low commodity prices preceded the tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese imports, and the lost market access due to retaliation. The situation is creating urgency to a farmer’s cash flow and long-term risks to financial stability. It poses uncertainty for the supply chain -- farmers, ag retailers and the lending community. The entire economic eco-system in rural America feels a bit fragile right now. And the government shut-down threw yet another unwelcome wrinkle in the mix.
The bottom line is we need to remove barriers to trade and sew up negotiations with China, the EU, Japan and others, sooner, rather than later.
We need to ratify the USMCA and resolve the steel and aluminum tariffs with Canada and Mexico.
I’m eager for bilateral negotiations with Japan to make strong headway. An agreement with Japan would ease losses from U.S. withdrawal from the TPP. Regarding the EU, I made my position very clear with the USTR and the EU Commissioner Malmstrom. European trade barriers for American agriculture must be dealt with in any agreement that will have a chance of passing Congress. Agriculture is the locomotive that pulls agreements across the finish line.
The slowing Chinese economy also tells me they are ready to come to the bargaining table and put an end to the trade war. There’s real pressure to strike an agreement with the United States, and I’m encouraged by the Administration’s high level of engagement with the Chinese. I hope we can strike a deal while the iron is hot.
When farmers are pinched, the entire farm economy is pinched. When they can’t sell their hogs and soybeans for a profit, they can’t buy their feed and fertilizer from you. The entire agriculture industry contracts when farmers are not profitable.
Finally, as a top Republican on Judiciary, I’ve long supported immigration reform. I’ll continue pushing for permanent solutions to improve the integrity of our guest worker programs and fix our broken immigration system. I believe American agriculture needs to be able to hire the workforce it needs to get the job done. We all know that America’s food producers grow the best crops in the world. It doesn’t do any good if we don’t have enough workers to help harvest, process and deliver the food to market.
Thank you again for inviting me to be with you this morning. I’d be glad to take your questions. Like I do at my county meetings in Iowa, I’ll take any question. While I can’t guarantee I’ll have the answer you’re looking for, I can promise I’ll listen and give you an honest answer.