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It was Different

Written by Dennis Sun

A week ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Spring Legislative Conference. Also in town were members of the American Sheep Industry Association for their legislative conference. Members from all three associations provided plenty of hats at our nation’s Capital and around town. Public lands ranchers and sheep and cattle producers from across the nation were welcomed, listened to and consulted on various issues in a great turnaround from the last eight years.

We heard from Cabinet secretaries, White House appointees, trade officials and Congressional members. They all commented, “You are going to like what you hear,” and we did. President Trump has been in office less than 100 days, but the President and Congress have replaced numerous regulations and laws that hurt agriculture, especially in the West.

The afternoon I flew in, the President was signing a Congressional Review Act Resolution disapproving of and rescinding the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 rule. In attendance were sponsors Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Congressman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), along with Commissioner and National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region President Joel Bousman, who is also a public lands rancher from Sublette County, along with other dignitaries. At the end of the ceremony, President Trump walked out with Joel’s black hat. It will be interesting to see where that hat turns up in the future.

We heard the new Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speak with a lot of confidence and authority to the roomful of public lands ranchers, saying, “The farther we get out of D.C., there’s a breach in trust, and there’s a breach in the expectation of the heavy-handedness of Department of Interior.” Speaking on our National Parks, he cited the Theodore Roosevelt Arch at the entrance of Yellowstone National Park, which is inscribed with the phase, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” He went on to say, “We’ve lost that, but were going back to it.” He said, “We work for the people, and that’s the way it was intended.” It’s been a long time since we’ve heard comments like those.

We heard from the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney General from Oklahoma. At the end of his talk, he received a standing ovation, so we liked what we heard from him.

For the first time in eight years, there is a person representing agriculture on the President’s Economic Advisory Council. He said, “The best way for those in agriculture to survive is to make money ranching and farming.” We agreed with that.

A number of us in agriculture have been concerned about President Trump and his methods of dealing with trade. We heard from some of his trade appointees, and it sounds like there will be bilateral trade agreements instead of multilateral trade agreements. That is, the U.S. and one other country will strike a deal. We hope it works. Agriculture has to have trade to survive, and America has to have a fair deal. We wish the President good luck.

We’ve all had some concerns of the President’s appointments, and of the many we listened to, we were encouraged greatly. Interior Secretary Zinke said we would like whom he selects as BLM Director, and names of those with connections to Wyoming were heard around town for BLM and other agencies.

Some may not be in favor of the President’s way of leading, but one in agriculture cannot dislike his and Congress’ results.