The American economy has been President Trump’s shining example of how his administration is “making America great again.” Sure, the stock market might be doing well, unemployment is low, and President Trump somehow managed a “Phase One” trade deal with China, but what does that mean for American farmers?
Well, the president seems to think that means farmers should buy “bigger tractors” and “more land” because of the yet-to-be implemented “Phase One” trade deal with China that would theoretically increase U.S. agricultural exports. But no one should be taking financial advice from a “successful” businessman who’s declared over $1 billion in losses.
First and foremost, experts and economists are doubtful China will spend the agreed upon $50 billion on U.S. farm products. They’re even more doubtful American producers could keep up with the demand if they did. For reference, China imported $24 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2017, right before the trade war started, and the most the country has ever imported was $29 billion in 2013.
But American farmers shouldn’t consider buying anything right now, let alone more land and equipment in anticipation of increased demand that won’t likely happen. Trump’s trade war has ruined the financial futures of family farms across the United States and created market uncertainty for multiple agricultural industries.
Farm bankruptcies and farm debt increased 24 percent nationwide last year, and the largest number of filings came from the Midwest, with 13 states in the region accounting for 255 bankruptcies. Trump’s unnecessary trade war with China has caused undue pressure on already stressed dairy, soybean, and corn industries, and the only reprieve he’s offered is in the form of government bailouts and subsidies.
But those bailouts aren’t necessarily going to the farms that have been hit the hardest by the president’s misguided trade policies. Research showed the top 1 percent of aid recipients received an average of more than $180,000 in farm subsidies while the bottom 80 percent were paid less than $5,000. Looks like Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was right, farmers should get big or get out.
So, we’ve got farms declaring bankruptcy because Chinese export markets were basically closed, and the farm aid meant to help them stay afloat is going to the country’s biggest and most successful farms. But, for some reason, the president still expects farmers to buy more equipment and land based on a promise made between Trump and China. North Dakotans deserve more than Trump’s broken promises.
If anything, President Trump’s comments are another indicator of how out of touch he is with the base that got him elected.
North Dakota’s 26,000 farmers are hardworking individuals who want to earn their living by selling the products they cultivate, not with government handouts from a president who likes to simply throw money at the problems he creates. North Dakota’s agricultural market is worth over $8 billion, likely more than any of Trump’s failed business ventures were worth. We need to protect North Dakotan farmers and show President Trump and Secretary Perdue the door in November.