Monday, August 31, 2020

Biden virtual roundtable with farmers and ranchers slams Trump administration on ethanol, trade deals and more

Joe Biden's presidential campaign signaled a continued resolve to woo rural voters last week, with a virtual roundtable involving farmers, lawmakers and farm-union leaders.

"Rural America, and farmers in particular, voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016 but have suffered rather than benefited from it, said speakers," Chuck Abbott reports for the Food & Environmental Reporting Network. They "criticized Trump for using agriculture as a pawn in the Sino-U.S. trade war and labeled him weak on ethanol."

Trump remains popular among farmers even though many have fared poorly during his administration, Abbott reports. Pennsylvania farmer Rick Telesz said during the roundtable that neighbors would tell him that the past two or three years have been the toughest they can remember, but "the next sentence, they're saying, 'I'm voting for Trump.'"

Biden is unlikely to win the overall rural vote, but narrowing the Republican margin in battleground states could make all the difference, Abbott reports.

In addition to the trade war and the clash between oil and ethanol interests, speakers discussed the misfortunes of the dairy industry, African swine fever, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, Matthew Weaver reports for the Capital Press in Salem, Ore.

"Darin Von Ruden, president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said his state has lost two dairy farms per day — 25 percent of all of his state's dairy farms — during Trump's presidency," Weaver reports. "The rate of loss is similar across the country, he said." Von Ruden also said dairy farmers such as himself do not believe they benefited from the trade war with China or the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

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