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Monango, N.D., farmer gets a shout out from President Trump

Val Wagner of Monango, N.D., spoke in person to President Donald Trump and was mentioned by him in his speech on Jan. 14, 2019, at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans. File photo by Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

NEW ORLEANS — About a month ago, Val Wagner submitted some comments regarding trade, tariffs and the farm bill for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th anniversary convention. Her comments centered on how the fines, fees and permits that come with overregulation don’t just affect a farm for today but also matter for its future profitability.

Wagner got a call on Friday, Jan. 11, from the White House and learned she may have the opportunity to meet President Donald Trump and that he might base part of his speech at the convention on what she had to say.

On Monday, Jan. 14, “I was able to go backstage and meet with him and shake his hand,” Wagner said.

A bigger shock came during the speech itself. Trump was speaking about regulatory reform and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

“In the audience today is Val Wagner from Monango, N.D. Val ... (the crowd cheered and Trump stopped and laughed). It’s a good place. You have a great new senator, by the way. … Val and her husband would love to expand their farm for their four boys, but under the Waters of the United States rule they would have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines because of the prairie potholes on their land. …”

Wagner, voice still shaking nearly half an hour after the president’s speech, said she was “shell shocked.” What she found to be the most shocking was that Trump mentioned her tiny, North Dakota town, which is about 146 miles southwest of Fargo.

“The president actually even said Monango, N.D.,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened in the history of the world.”

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