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Welcome to Episode 8 of The Spokesman Speaks podcast. In this episode, you'll hear U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo share his thoughts on how America's farm belt is growing security and prosperity. Secretary Pompeo addressed a group of Farm Bureau members and agribusiness professionals at the World Food Prize building in Des Moines on March 4, 2019. Iowa Farm Bureau hosted the event.


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Narrator: Welcome to The Spokesman Speaks, a podcast from Iowa's leading agricultural news source. Brought to you by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Now, here's your host, Laurie Johns. .

Laurie Johns: Welcome to The Spokesman Speaks podcast. This is our March 11th edition. Happy National Agriculture Week! We're glad you decided to tune in. This week's episode features a rather distinguished guest, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo visited Des Moines earlier this month and during his visit Iowa Farm Bureau hosted the Secretary at the World Food Prize building for a discussion with Farm Bureau members and agribusiness professionals. We're excited to bring you the Secretary's speech in this podcast episode. Check it out. .

SOS Mike Pompeo: I'm so thrilled to be here in Iowa. It was great, we flew in last night and believe me, it was a breath of fresh air to be out of Washington D.C. And I know firsthand too how farmers are the backbone of America, how food security matters so much and what you all do, the people of Iowa, do to help deliver that every place in the world. I spent a good part of my summer from my early years in my life in a place called Winfield, Kansas, at a family farm owned by my Uncle Jim. They were some of the most special times in my life. I remember the farm next door had a sign that said, "One Kansas farmer feeds 120 plus you." I'm confident if we drive down the highways here in Iowa we'd see a similar sign, and I know it's true. George Washington has the famous quote that says, "I would rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world." I think he meant that too. I want to talk about agriculture and innovation and our relationship with China. The two, as you know, are deeply intertwined. In 1980, a now very famous man, the then governor of Guangdong Province ,led the first ever Chinese governors delegation here to the United States and they traveled straight here, straight to Iowa. A few years later, his son followed in his father's footsteps with a visit here and struck up a friendship with the governor. Today, President Trump and President Xi deal with each other trying to make sure that we get this important relationship right. Indeed, you all know Iowa's bounty has attracted many Chinese leaders wanting to know the state's secret for prosperity. But they haven't fully embraced the principal ingredient for Iowa's success, which is free enterprise and hard work. And the central idea of allowing individuals to have their own autonomy and their own dignity and to lead and take chances and to take risk and to build their own businesses. Indeed, when the heavy hand of government dictates economic policy, we all know that productivity plummets. Innovation necessarily grinds to a halt and people are much worse off. Only the free market makes life better in the long run. These market principles, the ideas of fair competition made American companies the global standard for success in quality. Earlier today, I had the chance to visit the facilities of Corteva, an agriculture science company. It was remarkable. Companies like Corteva are an example of how economic freedom, innovation, risk taking, a light regulatory touch can make American agriculture the envy of the world and dynamic in ways that no other country can potentially match. Think about what our businesses do. I ran a small business in south central Kansas before I lost my mind and ran for Congress. Now almost a decade ago. Gene editing has paved the way to eliminate diseases like corn blight. Companies like Quantified AG have developed ear tags that use biometric technology to rely information about animals' health in real time. Others like AgRobotics are using data from drones to help farmers make more precise fertilizer applications to boost yield. These things seem simple to us. They seem like common sense, but they arose out of the creativity and freedom that we have here in America. It has taken decades of ingenuity which have enabled our farmers to produce harvests at levels the world would have been astounded by just a few years ago. This idea, this spirit of innovation, makes America what it is in the agriculture world. Renowned for its integrity, known for its safety and knowing too that we deliver reliable projects each and every time. Indeed, when consumers eat an American steak they know exactly what they're getting. Worldwide trust in the American brand is unmatched from farm to table as we might say. We also have the highest quality because of our free market system. Companies value their brand in a market based economy and work to protect that reputation. Competition and choice cause people to play by the rules. Indeed we have an entire ecosystem, some of them are standing in the back, an entire ecosystem of reporters, investors, food safety experts, consumer advocates and nongovernmental organizations to keep an eye on our companies and our markets. And our fair minded justice system punishes law breakers. The vibrancy of our agricultural sector shows that America's economic dynamism is not confined to Manhattan or to Silicon Valley or to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The American heartland is vibrant with economic potency and good things are happening here too in Des Moines no less than they are in Palo Alto. There are even wineries in the Hawkeye State or so I'm told. So look you're more similar to California than you want to believe. And President Trump's low tax regulation cutting agenda is ensuring that our ag industry, along with all the other sectors of our economy, have room to continue to grow and thrive. That our country's continued to innovate without undue burden. That our farmers will be able to bequeath their rich piece of earth to their children. Unfortunately, China has taken a different approach. It has a state led set of economic practices that threaten the health of the American agriculture industry that you've all worked so hard to develop. When we hear the stories of China stealing sensitive technologies, we often think of the technology powers that powers our fighter jets are smartphones and our medical devices, but Americans should know the China has targeted intellectual property and technology essential to farming too. A few years ago an Iowa farm security guard saw something suspicious in a field, stopped to investigate. He caught a Chinese national digging in the dirt trying to steal genetically engineered corn seed that took years of research and development to create and which had cost a lot of money to build. That individual later pled guilty to stealing seed from Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and LG Seeds. There's another story, a different Chinese national who stole hundreds of genetically engineered rice seeds produced by his employer. He stored them at his residence. He then passed the seeds to representatives of a Chinese crop research institute when they came to town and it wasn't until the Customs and Border Patrol or CBP officers searched their bags before a flight that he was caught. And then of course there's the theft that takes place in the robotics and industrial technologies that form the backbone of our agriculture industry as well. Every time there's a theft of this kind it eats away at the history, it eats away at the seed corn of the industry's upon which you and your children and grandchildren depend. And you should know too, it's not just big companies that suffer. As one farmer said quote, "What no one seems to understand is that they're stealing from people like me. They're stealing the research that farmers pay each time they buy a Monsanto seed." IP theft too isn't the only problem that China presents. It's an economic model that has for years survived on protectionism, rule breaking and state subsidies. China denies American companies access to its market through tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers and they deny us the ability to compete on a fair and reciprocal basis. I've been around enough businesses here in the heartland to know we don't fear competition, but to compete successful you have to have a real shot. You have to have a relatively level playing field. And China's protectionism has for decades tilted it. Tilted the field against our farmers and agricultural companies. You should know too that American agriculture exporters aren't the only folks that are the victims of the China state dominated economy. As Ambassador Branstad reminds me, it is the Chinese people who suffer as well. Think back to 2008 when tens of thousand of Chinese children got sick from contaminated milk and baby formula, several of them dying. Even today many Chinese travel abroad to buy baby formula and Chinese expatriates make big bucks shipping it back home for profit. A few years ago, Time magazine investigated fake Chinese eggs and came up with this list of scrumptious ingredients. Resin, starch, coagulants, pigments, sodium, alginate- I'm going to stop there. Today in China, counterfeit goods, counterfeit products, the overuse of pesticides, reprocessed cooking waste all remained persistent problems and just as China has guarantees of human rights written into its constitution, China boasts plenty of food safety laws. It's not about writing down one more regulation or one more rule, but enforcement is weak or nonexistent. And as we see so often in socialist countries, the prevalence of corruption in China state commanded economy frequently allows this kind of fraud to go undetected and almost always unpunished. And even when it's uncovered, the incentive to cheap remains unchanged. The Chinese people deserve better. The good news is this, help is on the way. American producers and Chinese consumers will both be better off. The outcome of President Trump's trade negotiations currently underway will pay dividends for people in each of our two countries. The president's taking a very hard line on stopping the theft of intellectual property. For ag producers, President Trump is fighting to level the playing field to which I earlier referred, so there will be greater market access for each of them. This is great news, but opening up markets for new businesses isn't just a pet project related to China. It's one of the core missions of the State Department, which I lead. And it has been for more than 200 years. But we're doing so today with a renewed focus. You know, many Americans look at the State Department and wonder what it does for them. They see the Secretary travel to far off places and they ask the question, "Is America, are Americans, the first client of the State Department?" You should know that you are. For one thing, we have 1,700 economic officers serving all across the globe. A huge part of their work on behalf of families in Iowa or Kansas or any other state is to create opportunities for American businesses to sell their products abroad. And when it comes to international commerce, I guess you could say that the art of diplomacy goes hand-in-hand with getting deals done. I'll close here. Under President Trump, our diplomats have been especially busy opening up markets around the world for all kinds of American agriculture. And along with our colleagues at USDA and the trade representatives office and the Department of Commerce, this administration has opened up a path for dairy and poultry to Canada, lamb and goat meat to Japan, beef and pork to Argentina, poultry to India, lamb to El Salvador, beef and poultry to Morocco, eggs to South Africa, dairy to Turkey and handfuls others. We hope that the EU too will soon lower its trade barriers and grant expanded access for American goods. Where China is concerned, new market access must come and we must do so in a way that creates systems that are enforceable. It doesn't do any good to sign one more agreement, one more document if a mechanism to enforce those commitments that the Chinese make to us doesn't have the capacity to create a set of rules and processes that are enforceable. One final point of importance related to keeping the American ag sector prosperous. Our abundance has always been an incredible blessing to the world. We have to extend that legacy. The promise of land and rich soil stretching into the horizon and a better life drew innumerable settlers to our shores. After World War I Herbert Hoover helped quarterback our efforts to feed tens of millions of Europeans, a project that depended substantially on American food stuffs. And in the years immediately following World War II American farm output, again, helped feed a continent ravaged by war and continuing to suffer from the threat of a famine. There are many programs today, you all are part of them, that helps satisfy and provide food for the world's neediest. That need has only grown and will only continue to grow. Today the United States is the world's number one exporter of food and Ag products and our generosity is legion. Our USAID bought 1.4 metric tons of food from American farmers in 2017 and fed 70 million people across 53 countries. But frankly, the greatest blessing, the greatest blessing from American agriculture isn't due to any government program. It was the work of Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug, the founder of this great institute, he devoted his life to feeding the world's population and bringing it out of starvation and malnourishment. And by breeding new species of wheat that yielded once unthinkable harvest, it's estimated that he helped save billions of lives. The explosion of agriculture productivity he triggered, became known as the green revolution. You should know that it was an American revolution and an American innovator who did that. I am confident that the next billion and the billion after that of people who will be fed around the world will also be fed by American innovation, creativity, and hard work. And we too know that to do that, we have to make sure that American businesses and people prosper. Earlier today, I met with some young people in the FFA. It's an impressive group. I remember my time representing south central Kansas. These are great young leaders of the future. They have firsthand knowledge of agriculture that is unparalleled anyplace in the world by young people. I mentioned earlier the farm in Winfield, Kansas. It's where I spent my summers. It's now where we go for family holidays to just hang out and get away. There is in that farm on the fence on the southwest corner, a Century Farm sign. A hundred years in the family. That's proudly staked right there. It took hard work by my Uncle Jim to keep this family farm in the family and to continue to make it prosperous and successful. I get that. America's State Department gets that and President Trump gets that as well. I know this. Farm life is the best of what America has to offer. We're committed in the administration to making sure that those young people that I met with today can pass on that noble way of life to their children. I hope that God will bless them. I hope that God will bless each of you and Iowa and the United States of America. .

Laurie Johns: And as you might guess, Secretary Pompeo's remarks about China and trade sparked a number of questions following his speech. We were able to catch several of those questions for you from the farmers and, as is often the case, the Q & A was just as fascinating as the speech itself. .

Questioner #1: What are some of the major obstacles left in the trade negotiations with China? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: So I can't give away the details of where they're still working or the exact details of what's going on, but it won't surprise you what's really difficult. The issue of opening up markets and access is a hard one for sure, but not the hardest of the issues. I think we'll actually get to a place where the Chinese will put us in a place where they'll buy more soybeans, buy more American products. I think we'll be successful on that. The more complicated issues are around the structural challenges. Structural challenges that not only impact agriculture but manufacturing services, frankly, all sellers of goods and services inside of China. This risk of IP stealing, forced technology transfer about which I spoke in my remarks is real and difficult and not something the Chinese are going to give up easily. And you attach on the backside of that that you need more than just a promise to undo those structural things, that you need a mechanism by which those commitments can be enforced. And that's the focus. It's where Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Mnuchin and the trade team are fully engaged. They have made progress on every one of those components of the agreement. They truly have. I've seen that and I know Ambassador Branstad has seen that as well. So real progress on every one of those elements. But if you ask what the hurdles that are that remain, it's those last couple items that will inevitably prove tricky, but which I'm very, very hopeful we'll be able to wrap up and get a truly successful outcome for the United States and for American ag. .

Questioner #2: I'm a pig farmer here in central Iowa. Our family's been involved in pork production, corn, soybeans as well. We're still dealing with retaliatory tariffs not only from China but also from Mexico. The pork industry is very important to the state of Iowa and really the whole Midwest. And we've really taken a double whammy. And so could you address maybe the Mexican issue as well, please? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: So this risk of retaliatory tariffs, you've seen it in pork, we've seen it at other places as well, is real. The president's deeply aware of this. The trade teams are all aware of, we're working. When we get a comprehensive agreement, we now have a relatively comprehensive agreement in the USMCA. We are working to clean up all of these issues alongside of that. And I hesitate to get too far out over my skis. But I'm optimistic that we'll, we'll get that, that will get resolution and get pulled back some of these risks from retaliatory tariffs. But I do want to emphasize, those commitments are as good as the paper they're written on. If there's not a mechanism that permits the United States to respond in a way that doesn't require us going into court someplace in a country that doesn't have the rule of law, that doesn't have an advanced justice system, we have to make sure that when we sign up for those things and we fix them, that we really have, there's a long history, you would probably know this history better than I do, a long history of us having celebrations, having signing ceremonies, everyone thinking, boy, we've put this problem to rest only to find that in relatively short order we didn't really solve much. And we are trying not to, we're trying to make original mistakes, not repeat the past ones. We're trying to make sure we don't fall down the same trap that American trade negotiators have done so many times. We're deeply aware of these retaliatory tariff issues. We know how much they impact you and companies, businesses like yours. Know that they're in the front of our mind and we're working our way to put America in a place where our businesses don't suffer them. .

Questioner #3: As soybean farmers, you know, have been hit particularly hard with the tariffs. The market facilitation provided a much needed relief. And my question would be, we've heard comments that maybe tariffs could be dropped on certain products or commodities and I know in the negotiating process you can't show your cards, but is there a chance that tariffs on soybeans could be dropped in exchange for something else? Make some concessions? And then some of these more tricky issues like intellectual property that take a lot of time and a lot of work could be put off or worked on, continued to be worked on while there is some relief for some of the ag products? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: Yeah. It's a good question. You saw the president make the request that the Chinese do that. I think it was on Friday of last week. He asked the Chinese, given the status of the negotiations and the fact that he made the decision on the 1st of March not to increase tariffs, something that he had previously said that he would do, he'd picked a date. He'd asked them to reduce some piece of their tariffs as well. The best I know we haven't received a formal response to that. Beyond that, I don't really want to comment too much, for Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin will kill me. So, it's a good question, it's something I know they're giving due thought to. .

Questioner #4: I'm a corn farmer in northeast Iowa. You've heard from hog producers, cattle producer perhaps, then some soybean farmers and we all invest money in our checkoffs, commodity checkoffs, that helped build these markets. And we rely heavily on investing in these markets and building them over time. We build great relationships. They are important for selling our products. You know, all this, I'm certain. Mexico and right next door is important to all of us. Canada also. We dearly need to see USMCA signed and done. One of the hurdles for that is the steel aluminum tariffs and from getting that sign. What are the thoughts on getting those removed and helping that agreement move forward? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: Fair question. Let me say this. I am very confident that there are enough votes to pass, to get the USMCA moved through our government, through the United States government. And without getting in the business of other sovereign nations decision making processes, I am confident that those countries too, will conclude that this deal is their best outcome and they'll move forward. I truly believe that. How we'll handle these 232 tariffs as part of that I think remains to be seen. But as I've engaged with foreign minister, Freeland and the new Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico, I think we're in a pretty good place getting each of those two countries to move forward with this agreement. You never want to count your chickens or pigs or anything before they hatch or before they grow up. But I feel pretty good about that, unless it becomes a real political football in Washington I think we'll, come the end of this year, have an agreement. Questioner #5: John Maxwell, eastern Iowa dairyman, would you comment on any kind of timeframe? Because everyday that marches on it's getting tougher and tougher. .

SOS Mike Pompeo: No. You remember I said I'd answer almost anything? It's just, I'm not trying to be short or not take your question seriously. I do. I am, the president is too, enormously sympathetic to what you all are going through. But I wouldn't want to predict a date or a week or how this is gonna fall. I've been part of too many of these negotiations that truly they look like they're home. They look like you see a path forward only to find that there was something buried somewhere and that there's risks that that happens here as well. .

Questioner #6: I would like to ask a question, yet another question on trade. With the loss of the TPP, do you see a bilateral trade agreement? I know there's been news on some work with Japan. Do you see that coming soon? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: I do. Yeah. Look, there's been some real progress made. There's an enormous amount of focus on China and the trade negotiated with China, I completely get why, that dominates the news. But we have efforts ongoing in China. There's work that's being done with the EU. Our task, the US government's task, the State Department's task, the trade representatives task, isn't confined solely to the markets in China. We need to get market access, good rules based straight, with each of those countries. And I had an ambassador, our ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the other day he went, he just, he said, "Look, they've been in the EU, they've been smearing the quality of our food. They've been saying things about the quality of our food that just simply aren't true." We have an obligation too, to make sure that facts are out there. We deliver consistent, stable, affordable, high yield, high quality food products all around the world. And, boy, the folks use these myths to try and knock down our capacity to sell into the market so that these countries can protect their farmers. The State Department has an obligation to fix that too, and that goes every place in the world. Questioner #6: What about Vietnam? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: You know, Vietnam, well we talked about trade on our trip to Hanoi, people forget, we actually met with the Vietnamese as well. In addition to the reason we'd parted there. I think Vietnam is going to make big steps forward as well. They made a number of offers while there. I'm not at liberty to disclose them yet, but things that you all would be very happy with. It's a reasonable market right about 97 hundred million people in Vietnam, not quite as wealthy as you see in other places, but certainly making real strides, a larger middle class there is inevitable and it'll be a very important market for you all here in Iowa. Yes, almost certainly a bilateral agreement with the Vietnamese. It may not even be a formal trade agreement. It may be just elements of what you would see in a normal trade agreement, full free trade agreement. And to your point, we could do this piece meal and get a really good outcome, a really good quick hit, which I think would be great given the conditions we're in today. .

Questioner #7: I'm a fifth generation farmer from northwest Iowa and I was kind of ready, position myself for these trade negotiations, but I grew really good crop. So I'm not all priced ahead and I just, you know, we're going to have big carry outs at least they're all predicting that we will. Do you have a plan B or whatever to peddle these things someplace other than China that's more reliable for us? I mean, I'm going to encourage you to sell all you want. We'll grow more. .

SOS Mike Pompeo: So there's been lots of ideas floated. I don't know that there's a concrete solution to the question that you raise. I wish I could tell you yes, we've got the markets identified. We know the price at which we can clear. I can't tell you that, but there are lots of ideas about how we might do that. Ways that we might assist. I know there was some assistance, interim assistant that was provided, but I also know, I heard from farmers in Kansas, they appreciated that. They thought it was great, but they'd rather just sell their stuff and run their business and pass it on to the sixth generation. .

Questioner #8: Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming to Iowa. I wondered if you could touch on North Korea situation and maybe opening up a trade agreement with them if something comes? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: I really hope. So a little bit of color on the president's trip to Hanoi perhaps would be of some interest. So I've been at this since the beginning. I took the first trip on behalf of the administration as the CIA director. I told a story that's not for repeating to your governor a little bit ago from the first strip. We've been engaged in the fundamental proposition of trying to convince Chairman Kim, who is 35 years old, that the historic strategy, which said that absent nuclear weapons North Korea will fall, that the government will fall. That it was their only way of achieving security for the country. And they trust that, they're confident that that will protect them. We've been trying to convince them with a fact based presentation that says actually your best way, if your goal is tomorrow, you may well be right, but if your goal is two, five, 10, 25 years, that in fact those nuclear weapons will actually present risks to your country. That running a nation in the way that North Korea has been run is not a sustainable model for the next 10, 20, 30 years. But it's going to require Chairman Kim to make that strategic decision. We didn't get there this past trip in spite of lots of hard work that was done by a State Department team, DOD team, all the folks at the Department of Energy over the past weeks working with the North Koreans to try and outline what a real big deal would look like. We didn't get there. And so I am hopeful, although I have no commitment yet, that we will be back at it. That I'll have a team in Pyongyang in the next couple of weeks continuing to work to find those places where there's a shared interest. The team will also be out working with our partners, right? We built an enormous coalition. All the members of the UN Security Council, people think of these sanctions as being ours. They're not, they're the world's sanctions. Everyone understands the threat from North Korea. We think we still have everyone on board. We think the whole world still understands the threat even after the deal that was proffered, which the president didn't think, rose to the level of something that he ought to accept. And we're still working at it. A big component of what we have presented, the president refers to as a brighter future for the people of North Korea. A significant opponent of that brighter future is the economic opportunity that sits in North Korea. For any of you who've studied this, there are enormous structural challenges, infrastructure challenges, electricity challenges. There are many, but it's a pretty fertile place. It's a place with 25 million people, an economy that has enormous potential for growth. And we believe that there are resources and willing partners who will come if we can make it across the Rubicon on the nuclear weapons to build a brighter future for the people of North Korea. And there would almost certainly be an enormous opportunity for American business to serve that 25 million person market as well. It'll take a while to build them out to a place where they have a significance, scalable middleclass economy. But we've seen other Asian countries do this in time periods that no one believed that it could be pulled off. .

Questioner #9: Do you think China's belt and road policy could eventually remove Africa, Europe and southeast Asia from the American sphere of influence for markets? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: No way. So the question is do you think China's belt and road is going to take down the United States of America? I summarize. No chance. As I travel the world, people are onto it. They get the shtick. These deals are in fact, often too good to be true. And many countries have already begun to see that. They show up with products that aren't world-class with Chinese labor and an enormous debt package, which is almost certainly designed for foreclosure. And I think the world is beginning to see that. And I think too, America sat still for too long. We didn't respond to this economic activity and we're determined to do it. And so you're now seeing American businesses, American diplomats showing up in these conversations, making sure that there's a fact based discussion about what's really taking place and how it is the case that there are better alternatives than doing some of these deals with China. I want to be clear, we're perfectly prepared and we welcome China moving around the world and competing. On a fair level playing field they have every right to go out and have Chinese companies go compete their brains out, work their tails off and go compete with us. And if they show up with a project that is an economically viable project and it is better than what the European show up, what the Americans show up with or what the Japanese or the Australian show up, so be it. We want the Chinese government to grow its economy and be successful. We see no problem with that. Where we have a real problem is when they show up with deals that just no one in this room would do. That none of you would, how many bankers do we have in the room? Any hands up, folks? None of you would loan into these deals. And none of you would see the economic outcome that got you to the right place in that transaction. That means almost certainly that there's a political component to the investment. And I'm very convinced that the world is waking up to this risk. I'm very convinced that America is responding to this risk. And I always believe that over a substantial period of time that markets always beat centralized government every place you find them. I think that'll be what happens here with the China's belt and road initiative as well. .

Questioner #10: As a Midwest farmer you understand the power of a handshake deal. Being a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and now in your current position, I'm sure you understand that facts really matter. And with the Chinese, we see that there's some flexibility with facts. I work for Iowa Select Farms, we're the largest pork producer here in the state of Iowa. African swine fever is a huge problem for the Chinese right now and across the world actually, and we're not getting good facts from them. So two fold question. During your time there, did you see or hear anything about African swine fever you could share with us from a firsthand experience? And secondly, how does this flexibility with facts play into trade negotiations with the Chinese government? .

SOS Mike Pompeo: So when I was there on the recent trip, it was raised, we talked about it, some Ambassador Branstad has been very engaged on this issue to try and understand the scope, the challenge, all of the various characteristics of the risk that is presented to that. I think I'll just leave it at that with, with respect to being fact challenge, you should know that there are many countries around the world that present fact challenged situations to the United States. Indeed some of our friends from time to time. Our task is to separate the wheat from the chaff. How's that for a good analogy here in Iowa? It's a real challenge. And one of the things that we have an absolute duty to do is provide the moral clarity around that. When countries are engaged in activities, sometimes so far as information campaigns, disinformation campaigns, we have an obligation to call it out from whatever voice that information is emanating. When we do that I think we achieved some level of deterrence. But most importantly, I think we protect America. That is in the sense we remain a country that does act in ways that are very fact based. You should know, I'm so proud to represent the 75,000 people, the United States Department of State. When I travel the world, I'll hear from our counterparts all over, you know, Mike, we learn a lot from the United States. You all help us, you provide foreign aid, whatever it is. The assistance might be. But one of the things that you bring to my country is people of integrity. We see how your diplomats work. We see how hard they work. We see how they're honest. We see how they don't show up with a paper bags full of cash to get a deal done. We see how it is that they interact with their colleagues, that they treat every human being with the dignity and respect that they deserve. They see that, they see the representation of these core understandings of the United States of America, which are part of what you're talking about with respect to fact based presentations. It's literally the case that when I enter a room to try and wrap up a negotiation, whether it's us trying to complete a trade deal or an arms weapon sale or, getting permission for our embassy to have more people, whatever it is, our counterparts know that whatever it is, I tell them we'll be truthful. That we won't be playing games, that we won't be engaged in a series of deceits. It's not that we don't make mistakes, not that we don't get things wrong, but we're showing up with a facts based presentation, a fact based presentation on behalf of the United States of America. Something you all should be incredibly proud of and I wish it was the case that there were more countries that engaged in international activity in the same way that we do. .

Laurie Johns: Iowa Farm Bureau takes a lot of pride in working to unite agriculture and we were thrilled to give Iowa farmers an opportunity to meet with the President's Chief Foreign Affairs Advisor. We certainly appreciate Secretary Pompeo's visit and I'm glad that you were able to listen into the discussion too. It's kind of nice to hear that. Maybe you weren't able to attend in person. That just about does it for this episode of The Spokesman Speaks podcast, but before we wrap things up, we wanted to bring your attention to a couple of upcoming opportunities. During our last podcast episode, we mentioned that Farm Bureau is hosting a series of meetings around the state to help farmers select their best risk management tools through the new farm bill. Those meetings are happening right now, so be sure to find the one closest to you and get registered. Registration is also open for an upcoming young farmer tour of various agricultural sites in the Kansas City area. Doesn't that sound like fun? And hey, by the way, it's a little bit warmer in Kansas. That tour is June 21st and June 22nd. And finally, the nomination period is now open for the 2019 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year award. Do you know anybody with a proven track record of excellence in soil conservation and water quality protection? Well, people need to hear them, need to meet that family, meet that farmer, so be sure to nominate that person right now before things start to get pretty busy in the fields. You're going to find out more details about all of these opportunities at Just check out our website. And be sure to join us for our next podcast episode on March 25th. We're going to have a nationally recognized expert to help us correct misconceptions about the environmental impact of meat and livestock production as well as a really important update on a federal rule that Iowa's farmers have been working to improve for years now. You don't want to miss this next episode. So until next time, thanks for reading the Spokesman. Thanks for all the great stories and inspiration and thanks for listening to The Spokesman Speaks. .

Narrator: Thank you for listening to The Spokesman Speaks, a podcast by Iowa Farm Bureau. Check out more podcasts and articles from The Spokesman at You can also find and subscribe to The Spokesman Speaks Podcast in the Apple Podcasts app, Google Play, and other popular podcast apps. We appreciate your ratings and reviews and welcome your feedback at



About The Spokesman Speaks Podcast

Since 1934,  The Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman has been Iowa’s leading agriculture news source, and today it is the largest circulation ag newspaper in Iowa. While the Spokesman newspaper is available exclusively to Iowa Farm Bureau members, The Spokesman Speaks podcast is available publicly, reaching farmers on-the-go with stories that matter to them. You can find episodes of the podcast at or subscribe and listen in your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or TuneInRadio.

We release new podcast episodes every other Monday. Episode 9 will be released on March 25, 2019.