Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Most Iowa farmers interviewed by Wall Street Journal at state fair appear to be sticking with Trump through trade war

Farmers at the Minnesota State Fair in Minnesota vented to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about the trade war with China, but The Wall Street Journal's sampling of farmers at the Iowa State Fair this week found that most are sticking with him.

"He's doing a good job and trying to make sure we're treated fairly," said Kevin Prevo, a fifth-generation farmer who raises corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs, and plans to vote for Trump again in 2020. Another fifth-gen farmer, Leo Balk, said Trump is "doing the right thing . . . It hurts, but his concept is absolutely right."

John McCormick and Jesse Narnanjo report, "One of the reasons farmers are showing so much patience with Mr. Trump, even as commodity prices have suffered, is because his administration has provided tariff-related aid to farmers. . . . In the wake of agricultural consolidation in recent decades, farmers aren’t nearly as large a group as they once were. But in heavily rural states like Iowa, which Mr. Trump won by almost 10 percentage points in 2016, they could still be an important voting bloc in 2020."

Not all of the dozen or so farmers the WSJ spoke to support Trump. Dan Taylor said he didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and compared farmers to evangelical Christians who, he believes, support Trump though some of his actions run counter to their beliefs: "The ag sector is the same way . . . They’ll still give him their loyalty, even though the trade war isn’t doing ag any good."

Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, told the newspaper that he's glad to see Democratic presidential candidates are trying harder to reach out to rural voters in the state whose caucuses start the voting, but warns them not to conflate farmers and rural voters. "Some farmers, Mr. Vilsack said, are also starting to realize the trade situation wouldn’t be so dire if Mr. Trump had built a coalition and made it harder for the Chinese to target U.S. agriculture," McCormick and Naranjo report.

Regardless, many say they're willing to stick with Trump. Adam Nechanicky, who farms soybeans, corn and cattle, said he doesn't believe Trump is "out trying to hurt the farmers . . . A deal worth doing is not going to be easy. It’s going to take a little bit of pain to make it better."

No comments: