While the debate rages over a potential immigration crisis at the border, President Trump and his administration appear to be ignoring an actual crisis in the United States: Farming.
The administration’s trade policies are drastically reducing U.S. agricultural exports. The result is some of the lowest farm incomes in 15 years. In some areas of the country, the rate of farm bankruptcies is rising quickly.
The news should be cause for concern around the Midwest, where Trump’s base is among his strongest. Politico suggests that the fate of the farm economy and of rural America is directly linked to Trump’s political future.
Brian Duehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, told Politico, “A lot of farmers are going to give the president the benefit of the doubt, and have to date. But the longer the trade ware goes on, the more that dynamic changes.”
Which is why hundreds of farmers and business representatives converged on Washington this week to talk with lawmakers and the Trump administration. They want the trade war to end.
Most experts are concerned conditions won’t improve, but will instead continue to sink. If nothing changes, they are expecting the farming industry to increasingly rely on government programs for relief.
John Newton, the chief economist at American Farm Bureau Federation, noted, “The farm economy’s in pretty tough shape. When you look out on the horizon of things to come, you start to see some cracks.”
Last month, Trump spoke at the annual American Farm Bureau convention. He spoke to a largely supportive audience about farming. The president claimed that his administration and the farming community were “setting records together for farmers and agriculture.”
However, the consensus outside the auditorium was less confident. Ranchers and farmers described several concerns, especially uncertainty caused by Trump’s trade agenda. Billy Rochelle, a Tennessee farmer, commented, “I don’t see it getting any better until we get something resolved with China.”
If Trump and his administration don’t reach a deal with China before the election cycle begins, battleground states like Iowa and Wisconsin could determine Trump’s fate as president.