Monday, May 20, 2019

Farmers seem to be sticking with President Trump in trade war with China, but they want him to win it soon

Farmer Tim Bardole sticks with Trump. (Photo by Zach Boyden-
Holmes of the Des Moines Register, via The Associated Press)
Though his fight with China over trade "has been devastating to an already-struggling agriculture industry, there's little indication [President] Trump is paying a political price," report Sarah Burnett and Scott McFetridge of The Associated Press. "There's a big potential upside if he can get a better deal — and little downside if he continues to get credit for trying for the farmers caught in the middle. It's a calculation Trump recognizes heading into a reelection bid where he needs to hold on to farm states like Iowa and Wisconsin and is looking to flip others, like Minnesota."

The story's example is Iowa farmer Tim Bardole, who "survived years of low crop prices and rising costs by cutting back on fertilizer and herbicides and fixing broken-down equipment rather than buying new." When Trump "made a miserable situation worse, Bardole used up any equity his operation had and started investing in hogs in hopes they'll do better than crops. A year later, the dispute is still raging and soybeans hit a 10-year-low. But Bardole says he supports his president more today than he did when he cast a ballot for Trump in 2016, skeptical he would follow through on his promises."

"He does really seem to be fighting for us," Bardole says, "even if it feels like the two sides are throwing punches and we're in the middle, taking most of the hits."

After citing March polling, the story notes, "Many farmers are lifelong Republicans who like other things Trump has done, such as reining in the EPA and tackling illegal immigration, and believe he's better for their interests than most Democrats even on his worst day. They give him credit for doing something previous presidents of both parties mostly talked about. And now that they've struggled for this long, they want to see him finish the job — and soon."

"We are the frontline soldiers getting killed as this trade war goes on," Paul Jeschke, who grows corn and soybeans in northern Illinois, told AP. "I'm unhappy and I think most of us are unhappy with the situation. But most of us understand the merits. And it's not like anyone else would be better. The smooth-talking presidents we've had recently -- they certainly didn't get anything done."

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