Monday, April 02, 2018

Rural Iowans worry Trump's tariffs and China response will hurt farming, manufacturing, radio newsman says

Rural Iowans aren't paying much attention to whether President Trump had sex with a porn star or his ties to Russia, but they're paying close attention to what he's doing with the economy. If his policies hurt them, and the rest of rural America, Trump "and his legacy are in deep trouble," Robert Leonard, news director of KNIA-AM and KRLS-FM in Knoxville, Iowa, writes for The New York Times.

Iowa has a strong manufacturing industry, and many rural Iowans worry that Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs will hurt their businesses by driving costs up. Leonard reports, "One smaller manufacturer – a Trump voter – told me that his costs to produce his product nearly doubled overnight, and that his business has already been hurt by the tariffs. Prices didn’t rise only after the tariffs were announced; they started rising when Mr. Trump floated the idea."

Farm interests have been on high alert about Trump's trade policies for a while. The Iowa Soybean Association said the steel and aluminum tariffs pose "an immediate and grave threat" to their industry and Iowa agriculture. China has responded to the tariffs with retaliatory tariffs on pork and other products. Iowa is the nation's largest pork producer.

Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Trump supporter, says he opposes the president's tariffs and worries they could help trigger a farm crisis like the one in the 1980's, which put 10,000 Iowa farms out of operation. "Dairy farmers are particularly hard hit, suffering through four years of declining prices. It’s gotten so bad, dairy farming organizations are giving out suicide hotline numbers, as farmers are committing suicide in the hope that their insurance will save the family farm," Leonard reports.

Though rural America voted overwhelmingly for Trump, his standing is precarious, Leonard writes: "With the multiple scandals, rampant corruption and the Mueller investigation, the only thing keeping him near 40 percent approval — and most important, approval among most Republicans — is a strong economy. That, and Fox [News] cheerleading. If the rural economy turns sour, much of rural America will abandon Mr. Trump, and Fox may have no choice but to follow."

No comments: