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President Trump thanks Mills River business

President Donald Trump (right) sits with daughter Ivanka at an event in Mills River on Aug. 24. Cory Vaillancourt photo President Donald Trump (right) sits with daughter Ivanka at an event in Mills River on Aug. 24. Cory Vaillancourt photo

President Donald Trump made an appearance in Mills River on Monday, touting a food program designed to reduce food insecurity and retain jobs in North Carolina’s critically important agriculture sector. 

“When the China virus struck our nation, many farmers had no place to send their crops or livestock,” Trump said, using a misleading name for the COVID-19 Pandemic. “At the same time, families across the country were in need of groceries.”

That led to the creation of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. 

“Through this program, the Department of Agriculture is purchasing food from farmers, then local distributors pack and deliver the boxes,” said Trump. “Families in need get it, and they get to eat very well. We’re tremendously grateful for the 185 employees here at this facility who have packed roughly 7,000 boxes a week.”

Trump spoke from a stage behind Flavor First Growers and Packers, a Mills River business, to a crowd of about 300 people. He was joined by former Georgia governor and current Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in announcing an additional $1 billion in funding for the Farmers to Families Food Box program.

“I’m so proud of the people of USDA for designing this program in a very short period of time, a record period of time,” Perdue said. 

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Perdue and Trump were also joined at the event by Special Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. In a phone call Friday, administration officials said Ms. Trump had championed the program. 

“This is a historic investment,” she said. “USDA has never done anything like this, so this is a brand-new program. And with this $1 billion addition, we’re going to keep it going. And we’re going to keep feeding those in need until this pandemic passes.”

Ms. Trump reiterated the importance of the program as well as the economic boost. 

“The President mentioned the enormous success: 70 million boxes of fresh produce, milk, dairy delivered from our local family farms to those who are vulnerable across the country, while, at the exact same time, saving countless jobs in terms of the distribution network, the distributors like this great facility that was having to lay people off because the supply chain was severed,” she said. 

She also called it a “win-win-win” program. 

“You can’t say that about a lot of government programs, especially one of this scale that was mobilized so quickly,” she said. 


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Brian Caskey, Mayor Pro Tem of Mills River, had sharp criticism for the president. Cory Vaillancourt photo


But not everyone in attendance was supportive of the president. 

Brian Caskey, Mayor Pro-Tem of Mills River, is a Democrat seeking to unseat Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards in District 49. He wore a decorative mask to the president’s event, but at one point, removed it to reveal another mask beneath it — touting the Biden for President campaign. 

“We were asked to come out at the very last minute, elected officials in Henderson County, and we came out to represent our community,” Caskey said. “Our community is hard-working farmers. The president came out here today to basically take credit for the good work that our farmers are doing when the fact is, he hasn’t really helped them out much at all.” 

Caskey, the only Democrat on Mills River’s Town Council, explained that the county’s farmers rely on migrant labor.

“Our agriculture committee sent a letter to [former congressman and current White House Chief of Staff] Mark Meadows, and to senators Tillis and Burr, asking them to establish a pathway to citizenship,” he said. “There has been no action taken on that. Meadows voted against it, and it sits in the Senate, so we’re still waiting for any kind of action at all.”

Meanwhile, Caskey said, migrants are being harassed and farmers can’t find labor. 

“I guarantee you later this summer you’re going to see a lot of tomatoes sitting on the ground in the fields, and a lot of corn that maybe didn’t get picked and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “In this community, we’re very disappointed in this president.”


N.C.-11 candidate Cawthorn to speak at RNC Wednesday

Madison Cawthorn, Republican nominee for the North Carolina 11th Congressional District seat recently vacated by Mark Meadows, will address the nation on Aug. 26 from the Republican National Convention. 

“I’ll be speaking about the future of the Republican Party,” said Cawthorn, 25. “I’ll be speaking about ways I think we need to change to be more effective in the future and be a more inclusive party, one that welcomes everybody instead of just an elite few.”

Cawthorn, who was in attendance at President Donald Trump’s event in Mills River on Aug. 24, did not speak from the podium, but was the target of praise from the president. 

“If I had a face like that, I would have been president 20 years ago,” Trump said, to laughs from the crowd. “Madison Cawthorn — a real star. You’re going to be a star of the party. Thank you very much. What a great guy. Great guy. He was in the Oval Office; I didn’t want my picture with him because he looks too good.”

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