While grain prices plummeted, and farmers were faced with few choices for profitability during harvest, most stood firm in their support of President Donald Trump. Yes, Trump has supported farmers with efforts such as a revised Waters of the United States rule, year-round availability of E-15, tax reform and a farm bill. But the wounds inflicted by his trade tactics will undoubtedly leave scars farmers won’t soon forget.
“I have supported Donald Trump since he started his campaign for president, and he has done a great job ‘shrinking our government’ and following through on many of his campaign promises,” says Kansas farmer Ken McCauley. “Rural America has experienced more pain than we expected in accomplishing some of POTUS’ goals, but as the saying goes ‘no pain no gain.’”
Minnesota farmer Brad Nelson isn’t happy about the wounds inflicted by Trump’s trade war.
“We have been the tip of the spear in trade talks,” he says. “It’s tiresome to watch efforts of checkoff dollars and commodity organizations get totally nullified. The next three or four years will tell if it was the right move or if it sets off another big expansion of South American acres.”
Uncertain Outlook. When you consider the turmoil surrounding trade over the past six months it’s easy to understand why farmers are worried about the future.
“There is concern about whether some of this damage will be more lasting than what was originally feared,” says Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., a former U.S. secretary of agriculture referring to the tariffs caused by the trade war.
In early December, following the trade truce reached by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese firms started purchasing U.S. soybeans again—at a slower-than-normal rate. Still, farmers have concern over the president’s tactics and demeanor.
“Donald Trump is like nothing we have ever experienced as president,” says Indiana farmer Don Lamb. “I’m sure there have been colorful and extreme personalities in our history, but not since I’ve been alive has there been anyone like Donald Trump. The dichotomy is that while I personally don’t like Donald Trump, I really like the policies he stands up for as president.”
Lamb says rural America and agriculture specifically have been elevated under Trump.
“My whole life I have heard nothing but negative comments about China: currency manipulation, untrustworthiness, lack of integrity, outright theft,” Lamb continues. “Whether we like the negative impacts of tariffs or not, it is refreshing to have a president who stands up and does something about our trade environment with China.”
“Many people can’t see the forest (accomplishments) for the trees (POTUS’ tweets and the ways he communicates),” McCauley adds. “I believe POTUS has our best interest at heart and has helped us in many ways, although these things haven’t happened exactly like we would want them to happen.”
Which policy issues from 2018 will loom into this year? Read the AgWeb political outlook for 2019 at bit.ly/policy-outlook