Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Beset by tariffs and ICE raids, some Trump-supporting Calif. farmers say they're glad to take one for the team

How California voted in 2016 (L.A. Times map; click to enlarge)
There's no doubt some of President Trump's policies are adverse to American farmers: the trade war with China is leading to stiff tariffs on many export crops, and his clampdown on illegal immigration has triggered farmworker shortages and immigration raids on farmers. But many conservative farmers in California say they still support Trump because his policies are better for America overall, Geoffrey Mohan reports for the Los Angeles Times.

Matt Fisher, a fourth-generation citrus grower in Arvin, told Mohan: "If I’ve gotta take a few bullets getting caught up in the cross-fire, but after four years or eight years — however long he spends in office — we’re on a better trajectory as a country, then it’s all parred up . . . I did my part, so to speak."

California farmers may have more latitude to take one for the team, since the state's wide variety of crops — over 200 — could temper the impact of tariffs. But the tariffs could be devastating in the Midwest, where farmers depend on soybeans and corn. China slapped a 25 percent tariff on American soybean imports and a 15 percent tariff on ethanol imports. California exports $2 billion worth of crops to China each year, its third-biggest customer after Canada and the European Union. California's top four food exports to China have all been hit with new tariffs: pistachios went from 5 percent to 20 percent, almonds went from 10 percent to 25 percent, wine went from 14-20 percent to 29-35 percent, and oranges went from 11 percent to 26 percent.

Conservative California farmers' philosophical attitude toward Trump is likely helped by their horror of socially liberal candidates. "That magnified fear of liberal zealotry — founded or not — explains a lot of what keeps agriculture in Trump’s fold," Mohen reports. "Politics is local, and nothing is more local than planting crops in the ground."

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