Tuesday, September 15, 2020


The Facts on Trump’s Ag Record: Trade War, Big Oil Handouts Disastrous For Iowa’s Farm Economy

Trump’s Election Day political stunts can’t cover up years of failed leadership on agriculture

DES MOINES — The recent incomplete attempt from Trump’s EPA to cater to farmers before Election Day can’t cover up four years of handouts to Big Oil and an agriculture agenda that left farmers behind. As farmers continue to bear the brunt of Trump’s chaotic trade war, the GOP administration has turned a blind eye for years until this politically timed stunt. 

Take a look at the facts on Trump’s chaotic trade war, handouts to Big Oil, and disastrous agriculture agenda:

  • Demand for crops like corn, soybeans, and ethanol have plunged since 2018 as a result of Trump’s trade war — $28 billion in farm aid had to be provided to offset these massive losses, leaving too many farmers dependent on government subsidies. 
  • Two thirds of the payments from Trump’s 2018 bailout program went to the top 10% of recipients — not family farms.
  • In 2019, under Trump’s leadership bankruptcy filings for small and medium-sized farms rose by 20%.
  • Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the ethanol industry lost $375 million in the first three months of this year. In 2019, 2 cents was lost to every gallon of ethanol produced. 

Here’s what farmers are saying about Trump’s failed leadership:

Quad City Times: “Rock Island resident and John Deere Seeding plant worker Rob Bern, who joined Vilsack on the call, said the plant was set to hire more people in anticipation of a good build season and corn prices of up to $7 a bushel in spring and summer of 2018.

“‘An then trade tariffs … kind of ruined all of that,’ Bern, 48, said. ‘We are looking a little under $3.50 a bushel right now. And that doesn’t sell a lot of planters. … We need to have trade agreements that are good trade agreements. We need to have trade agreements that are … not so haphazard. … We need to protect our farmers.’”

DMR: “Nieuwenhuis said the past four years have been the worst he’s experienced financially. ‘A lot of it has to do with politics,’ he said.

‘It keeps you afloat, but it doesn’t make you whole. We’d rather have export markets.’”

CNBC: “Wisconsin farmer Michael Slattery said the trade program has fallen short for small producers, putting them at a further disadvantage against agricultural giants that have come to dominate the industry. On his 240-acre farm in Manitowoc County, the last round of subsidy payments made up for roughly half of the income he lost from tariffs on soybeans and other major crops.

“‘It doesn’t cover your losses,’ said Slattery, who is also an economist at the Wisconsin Farmers Union. ‘We have greater and greater concentration of industry.’”

Sioux City Journal:Also joining in on the conversation was Bruce Rohwer, a fourth-generation farmer from O’Brien County.

“‘Iowa’s farm economy is like a three-legged stool,’ he said. ‘We survive on the strength of livestock, ethanol and international trade. We’ve had a hard time with all three for the past three-and-a-half years.’”

WVIK: “Joining Vilsack on the conference call was Rob Burn, a welder at John Deere. He says in 2018, the company expected corn prices to rise to $7 a bushel. After President Trump’s trade deal with China, he says prices dropped to $3.50.

“‘In the Quad Cities area and in a lot of Iowa, John Deere and a lot of other farm manufacturing goes on, they employ a lot of people, and we are directly tied to whatever happens in the farm markets. If we don’t sell corn and soybeans, we don’t sell farm equipment.’

“Burn says the trade tariffs were a problem even before COVID. Now, with a high transmission rate and hundreds of acres destroyed by the derecho, jobs are in jeopardy.”