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Tyson Foods' CEO Is Excited About Trump's Proposed Tax Cuts

March 02, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:31 AM UTC

Tom Hayes explains why.

Tom, President Trump said in his speech to Congress that he wants to restart the engine of the American economy. Do you think he has the proposals and the ability to do that? What are your thoughts? What I think is optimism is great, and whatever is going to help drive American jobs is fine by us. We are a great American food company, so I think anything that provides for less regulation, a lower tax base, it's going to be helpful to spur new jobs and spur new growth. And so I would say, extraordinarily helpful-- we're an optimistic company. I think that's an optimistic message. When you hear the president talking about his plans for tax cuts, rolling back regulations, road projects, how does this influence the business decisions at Tyson, for example? Are you making changes, adjustments, or maybe not? We're not making changes yet. We certainly will once things become visible, in terms of what's actually going to happen. We are definitely doing some scenario modeling. So all the things that have been proposed-- whether it's House-proposed or it's White House-- one of the things that we're doing is looking at, what are the things that could play out? How's that going to impact Tyson Foods? How do we make the best result for our employees and our investors? So that is something we're actively thinking about, and we're exploring all the options that are on the table today. So President Trump was talking about a historic tax cut. What would you like to see? Certainly, lower taxes-- fine by us. I think what's important is to understand what would happen, to the extent that we start making more money in the bottom line because of a tax cut. And what we would do is look to spend some of that back to improve our sustainability platform, to drive new products through innovation. So the idea is we want to continue to have a sustainable company, something that's living for 20 years in the future. And to have-- use some of that firepower to drive against our business, that's what we'll be focused on too. Well, he said it's going to be a big, big tax cut. How big does it really have to have a material impact on Tyson and its competitiveness? Yeah, so if our tax rate's 35% today, if it is 25%, that's a huge number-- a 10% difference. That can mean a lot, in terms of new innovation, and could be that we build new plants and we have more of a growth model. That is a significant amount of money, and something that would certainly make us happy, being predominantly centered in the US. How would you describe the business climate since President Trump was inaugurated a month ago? Is it different? Has it changed the business climate? I can't say that it necessarily has for us, but it's certainly, like I said, helping us think about, what could the outcomes be, and preparing for-- that for Tyson, what's going to be best for us to do. Let's talk a little bit about trade. Tyson operates in more than 100 countries. How concerned are you about some of the president's tough talk on trade could impact your business? It's really difficult, I think, and unpopular to politicize food, so we feel like there's going to be good arrangements that are built that we can continue to have those export relationships that we have. It is important to us-- and I think not just for us as a company, but also being a player on the global platform that we are. Agriculture is a huge business for the US, and for us to remain a powerhouse in that area, I think, is very important to the future of our country. And what about China? China is a big importer of meat products. How could trade tensions impact Tyson's China sales? What I would focus on is that, for the 80 years in the company's history, there have been a lot of things that have been tough. There have been markets that have been shut down to Tyson. There have been markets that have been opened up. There have been a lot of movement. This wouldn't be the first one. My hope is that it doesn't get to that point, but to the extent that it does, the resilience that the team has-- I'm confident we'll continue to move the company forward in a direction that takes advantage of opportunities that emerge as a result of maybe difficulties that we have.