Other Editors

Ag and rural areas must fight Trump

Why it matters: Imposition of Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork and soybeans will have negative impacts on prices and farm income.

The Mankato area is set to be stung particularly hard by President Donald Trump’s game of chicken with China as they impose tit-for-tat tariffs on a number of goods significant to the region’s economy.

Soybeans and pork are likely to be hit the hardest. Blue Earth County and the surrounding seven counties are the top producing counties in Minnesota for these products. The raw materials are tied to a number of other industries in the region, including ag processing, ag finance and agribusiness consulting.

There is no shortage of experts on both sides of the political aisle who warn against Trump’s strategy. The president tweeted to farmers on Wednesday saying he would help them sell their products, but it might take a while.

“I will open things up, better than ever before, but it can’t go too quickly,” he tweeted.

Even members of his own party say the trade wars are hurting agriculture prices already.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox News: “I’m very, very nervous about it, and my constituents are very, very nervous about it.

“I hope he knows what he’s doing,” Grassley told Fox, referencing Trump’s trade war strategy.

That’s the point. Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing. Republicans who represent rural America across the country need to stand up and tell him that.

Trump’s bravado on trade has been rippling through the markets. His former top economic adviser says uncertainty among business on trade could completely undo the impact of corporate tax cuts. Experts who watch capital spending say businesses are not spending more, even though they got huge tax breaks, because they fear they’ll lose their overseas business.

It’s not surprising Trump is weak on trade thinking. He made his millions on real estate in New York, not corn in Iowa. He knows how to bluster at competing developers but knows little about selling tons of soybean meal to Chinese livestock producers.

Trump’s recent attitude that “it will take a while” suggests his other trade deals can be balanced on the backs of farmers, who can wait for their income.

Agricultural and rural America, which voted for Trump, needs to make clear he’s damaging their interests and thwarting their livelihoods.

— The Free Press of Mankato

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