(Des Moines) — President Trump touted his record of helping farmers in an Iowa campaign stop Wednesday.
Speaking at a rally at Des Moines International Airport, Trump recalled his 2016 election victory in a state he carried by nearly 10% — or 150,000 votes.
"I just tell you from Iowa, you're a very powerful state politically," said Trump. "You're a big state to me, big in your heart, but you have a tremendous influence and tremendous power. And you've never let me down."
Trump spent a large portion of his speech going through accomplishments for Iowa farmers under his administration. He pointed to recent purchases of commodities by China under a phase one trade deal between the world’s largest economies.
"Two weeks ago you had the largest order of corn in the history of our country," said Trump. "Two weeks ago you had the largest order of soybeans in the history of our country and the largest order of beef. You know why? Because China wants to keep me happy. That's why."
Opponents of Trump’s trade policies point to increasing levels of subsidies to the farm industry. This year, the federal government will pay farmers a total of $46 billion, accounting for nearly 40% of farm income. Trump says the money helps get farmers even for trade deficits created by previous administrations.
"I said to Sonny Perdue -- who is a great guy as Secretary of Agriculture, he knows more about farms -- I said, 'Sonny, what's the number?'" said Trump. "He said, 'Two years ago, sir, $12 billion they hit us for and last year $16 billion.' I said that's okay. We're going to put a 25% tariff. The farmers are going to get $12 billion and then they are going to get $16 billion. We're going to give that money to our farmers and that got our farmers even."
Aside from export demand, Trump attempted to boost domestic demand for corn last year when he approved the sale of E15 year-round. He says that move helps farmers and has helped lower gas prices this year.
"I made it year-round and 15% up from the 10%," said Trump. "It's great stuff. When the market comes back -- which it's coming back -- but in the meantime you have inexpensive gasoline. That's not so bad, right? That's not so bad."
Additionally, the president says his decision to alter the estate tax will help more young farmers keep family farms. Currently, estates valued at more than $11.2 million would be subject to a 40% tax when passed down through generations, including farms and farmland.
"A lot of farms were put out of business," said Trump. "The parents would pass away and they leave the farm to the son, daughter or the family. And the family has to go out and borrow a fortune and then they a couple of bad seasons and they end up losing everything. We don't have that anymore. We cut the estate tax. It's out. Gone."
Towards the end of his speech, Trump officially announced that he would be awarding Dan Gable the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gable was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Iowa State University, a 15-time national champion coach at the University of Iowa, an Olympic Gold Medalist and a Waterloo native. Gable is expected to receive the medal at a future White House ceremony.