It has been a busy week in terms of tariffs, bailouts, and the politics around agriculture in North Dakota. The escalating trade war and its impacts have been felt by farmers. Those who attempted to downplay impacts as “hysteria” and calling people “drama queens” have acknowledged the pain created by politicians. Their acknowledgment came in the form of a $12 billion agriculture assistance from the federal government. The proposal had self-proclaimed conservative lawmakers like Kevin Cramer applauding government involvement. Others remained absent like Congressional candidate Kelly Armstrong.
Privately, several prominent farm groups complain Armstrong doesn’t seem to grasp their issues. – Cook Political Report
Outside of the proposed $12 billion program being contradictory to conservative values, there have apparently been grumblings from farm groups about Armstrong’s agricultural comprehension. Today the Cook Political Report dove into the race for North Dakota’s open seat. In the report, something stood out. “Privately, several prominent farm groups complain Armstrong doesn’t seem to grasp their issues.” Not one, but several farm groups. Will they also notice his absence this week?
What is the deal? I haven’t considered Armstrong as one to shy away from taking a position in the past. Is he confused about the issues as these farm groups have indicated? Is the farm advisory committee he established out of step with family farmers and giving him poor advice?
When it comes specifically to trade and President Trump’s use of tariffs, Armstrong seems to have endorsed the new approach while simultaneously sounding an alarm. During the June Congressional debate, he said we needed to try something different but couldn’t risk a five-year trade war. Since that debate, the trade war has escalated which has ultimately led to the federal assistance. We should learn whether or not he supports the “temporary assistance” pushed by President Trump. His opponent, Mac Schneider issued a statement earlier this week.
The trade war has left many farm state Republicans in an undesirable spot. Tariffs and multi-billion dollar federal spending programs aren’t something they’re going to want to talk about while putting the term “conservative” in every sentence they can find. Perhaps he thinks it is best to try and fly under the radar and hope his party affiliation is enough to garner the votes needed. Farmers should continue to press the issues on these candidates and get answers.