This week President-elect Donald Trump appointed Oklahoma attorney general (AG) Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Trump, who had campaigned on the overregulation affecting farmers and criticized EPA’s decisions, took a strong step forward on capitalizing on his promise to have someone at EPA who would be a “friend of agriculture.”
In the announcement, Pruitt said, "The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom to American businesses."owa Farm Bureau Federation president Craig Hill said, "Gov. Branstad has probably been the greatest promoter and a tireless advocate of agriculture as any governor in this nation, and Iowa Farm Bureau members have traveled with the governor to China and seen firsthand the positive reception he gets in China. He is treated with such great respect and authority there.”
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Pruitt’s nomination is “welcome news to America’s farmers and ranchers — in fact, to all who are threatened by EPA’s regulatory overreach — and should help provide a new degree of fairness for U.S. agriculture.”
Duvall added, “We know that in his position as attorney general in Oklahoma, Pruitt has stood up for commonsense, effective regulation that protects the environment and the rights of the regulated community. We have been grateful for his effective legal work in response to EPA’s overreaching waters of the U.S. rule.”
However, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) said she was deeply concerned by the nomination because Pruitt has been a "leading proponent of dismantaling the landmark Renewable Fuel Standard," she said. "We were promised a farmer-friendly EPA by President-elect Trump, yet his pick for the agency wants to upend one of the most successful economic drivers in rural America."
Branstad big win
U.S. farmers will have an “old friend” negotiating on their behalf if Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is confirmed as the ambassador to China. Trump has a difficult line to walk with the major trading super power China. However, Branstad has a 30-year history with the current president of China, Xi Jinping.
Agricultural trade between the China and the U.S. grew to $35.6 billion last year, and there are predictions that the nation could see $71.2 billion in trade with China by 2025, if forecasts hold.
Branstad said the U.S.-China bilateral relationship is at a critical point.
“Ensuring the countries with the two largest economies and the two largest militaries in the world maintain a collaborative and cooperative relationship is needed more now than ever,” Branstad added. “The President-elect understands my unique relationship to China and has asked me to serve in a way I had not previously considered.”
The relationship between Branstad and Xi dates back to 1985, when Xi visited Iowa as a Hebei province party official and was the director of the Feed Association of Shi jiazhuang Prefecture. He visited Iowa to study agriculture as a young man (read: Why China’s president loves Iowa). Branstad established Hebei as a sister state with Iowa in 1983.
“I believe that the respect and admiration built over a decades-old friendship between President Xi and I give me an opportunity to help the President-elect and serve Iowa, the United States and the world for the better,” Branstad said.
Read more reaction on Branstad here.