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Trump’s Trade War a Disaster for Farmers

I pay money out of my own pocket to feed you

My grandfather bought this land in the depths of the Great Depression with an unsecured loan from our local bank. My parent’s, particularly my Dad, worked like mad bastards to grow that farm into over 400 acres of prime farm land the same way. Through relationships with our neighbors, turning out when they needed help, and not expecting the same in return.

We have survived through two barn fires, one resulting in the loss of over 800 head of hog, a train derailment that contaminated our wells, and a brucellosis outbreak that required us to shoot every head of cattle we owned and leave them to rot. The fertilizer plant couldn’t take them without fear of infecting our neighbor’s farms. – We have survived all of this and we may not be able to survive the Trump tariffs.

Prior to President Trump’s trade wars Ag prices were already suffering BUT we were still able to make a slim profit. $10.37 per bushel of soybeans for a profit of 10 cents per bushel grown. Corn profits: 8 cents per bushel grown. Those profits are gone. We paid money out of our own pockets to feed you this year. I’m working a 3rd job in addition to the work I always do in the off-season and it’s likely that will continue long after Trump is gone.

Those Ag contracts don’t just magically come flooding back once a trade war ends.

We will have to undercut our nation’s largest competitors to get our share of those lost markets back until we can once again post the slim profits we enjoyed and you can bet Argentina and Brazil will not be resting on their laurels. They’re already seizing and clearing land to increase their Ag output and secure that market share Trump has gambled away.

And that is my beef with President Trump – he doesn’t know much outside of the life he has lived as the son of a New York Real Estate developer and remains so convinced of his own superiority he refuses to learn.

Filling his cabinet with lobbyists and investment bankers certainly hasn’t helped.

From Steve Mnuchin; former CEO of the large multi-national investment bank Goldman-Sachs to his Ag secretary, Sonny Perdue. It’s a cabinet of people who profit most from our losses.

All of this could have been avoided if our President was honest and willing to listen and learn.

Despite what Sonny Perdue (of large multi-national Perdue Farms) may have said to him; Pres. Trump also was given input from the American Farm Bureau among many others. They told him the Ag markets were already stressed and informed him of the dangers faced. Corn, soybeans, pork bellies and beyond. There isn’t a single Ag product China needs from us that they cannot get anywhere there is soil, water, sunlight, and space.

Worse still is the fact China has learned from their mistakes. Our family farms may not get that market share back at all if Trump remains stubbornly committed to a trade war he could have never won.

The old Hukou system the Chinese have used in the past is changing. Under adherence to Soviet-era communist ideology the average Chinese farm had been 1.6 acres per adult working on that farm. – Subsistence level farming able to feed that family alone.

Because of this China had been forced to import larger and larger amounts of grain and meat to feed their population.

U.S. agriculture, and in particular family farms, has profited from this since 1978.  – China was the great leveler between the large corporate outfits like those owned by Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, and Jon Tester and the rest of us.

That is changing and the longer President Trump persists in pursuing a trade war he never could have won… the harder it will be for the family farm to survive.

As I have said; all of this could have been avoided if the President was not convinced his experiences as a Real estate developer in New York City was superior to the lives we lead here in America’s heartland.

Nobody with half-a-brain makes such sweeping changes to the Ag market after seed was bought, planted, and in the ground. — We could have planted different crops and survived.

But our President went chasing headlines after his European trade war led to such great “ratings” and did so on July 6th…. long after family farms had already taken the usual yearly loans for seed, planted that seed, and was well into the growing season.

The $12 billion in additional Ag subsidies will not be a boon to us. Those will be handed out based on acreage alone and not the percentage of lost profits. – The lion’s share will go to large corporate outfits, many of them subsidiaries of multi-nationals themselves who are already enjoying the added gift of a tax holiday on the money they have stashed over-seas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

We argue over this at 4 am every day we meet up at the Truck Stop for coffee before starting our day. I only hope that people will listen and learn before they respond and before it is too late.

 

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