U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today took to the Senate floor to highlight Montana Ag Summit 2017 that will take place May 31-June 1 in Great Falls.
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Daines’ remarks as prepared are below:
“I have good news for Montana – a week ago yesterday, the Senate voted to confirm former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as our next Secretary of Agriculture.
“Secretary Perdue and I discussed Montana ag and the need to expand agricultural access to foreign markets when we met prior to his confirmation hearing.
“I believe that he will prioritize the ag industry during his time in office, and I am pleased to share that I will be hosting the Secretary in Montana for the Montana Ag Summit later this month in Great Falls.
“Back in March, during the Secretary’s confirmation hearing, I extended an invitation to join us in Montana’s Golden Triangle as we discuss the issue of strengthening international relationships for Montana’s agriculture.
“At the Ag Summit, we will also showcase the technological advancements that are changing the way we produce crops and livestock, promote the next generation of ag producers, and discuss the challenges our ag producers face as a result of federal policies and regulations.
“The Montana Ag Summit will bring together leaders across the agriculture industry to hear from our keynote speakers, which include Secretary Perdue and my colleague, friend, and Chairman of the Ag Committee, Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas. Nothing takes the place of hearing directly from Montanans and seeing the great state with your own eyes.
“I have been a strong advocate for Montana ag since coming to Washington, D.C. and it is a privilege to serve as Montana’s only representative on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Whenever I get the chance, I talk about Montana’s ag industry and advocate for regulation reform and additional opportunities for our ag producers to compete on a level playing field.
“Another critical issue for farmers and ranchers in Montana and around the nation is opening up more market opportunities for the ag industry. In fact, this past month, 38 of my colleagues and I, wrote to President Trump asking him to prioritize reopening China’s market to U.S. beef in his discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China is Montana’s third leading trade partner after Canada and South Korea.
“It’s important to remember that 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. While the Chinese ban on U.S. beef imports was lifted last fall, more needs to be done to actually see U.S. beef on the shelves of Chinese grocery stores. China is the second largest beef import market in the world.
“It was an honor to personally present some of Miles City’s finest steaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang from Fred Wacker. I’ll get Montana beef in China if I have to take it there myself!
“Agriculture is the number one industry and economic driver in Montana. With over 27 thousand farms in the state, Montana agricultural is a nearly 5-billion-dollar industry. Montana is the leading pulse crop producer in the nation.
“Last week, President Trump unveiled his tax reform plan, which among many proposals includes a full repeal of the death tax, an onerous tax that directly impacts many Montanan farming and ranching families.
“I have called for a repeal of the death tax since I first came to Washington, D.C. because I understand how these taxes can cause family farms to break up and be sold off.
“The bottom line is this, you can’t feed a nation without farmers and ranchers, and you can’t have opportunity economies without actual opportunities to meet the needs of not only our state and our nation, but the world.
“As Congress and the Trump administration continue to work together, I am excited to see that ag is a priority. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate, as well as in the Administration, to advance policies and solutions to the barriers our nations’ ag producers face and I look forward to the upcoming Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls.”