Farmers, who were the backbone of President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 are increasing becoming angry with the ongoing trade war that’s killing their industry. The vice president of the farmer’s union said: “We lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over.”
According to Newsweek, farmers have already been suffering the repercussions of the trade war and tariffs since the beginning of August when China, the fourth largest export market for American farms, suspended all purchases of United States agricultural products in response to the tariffs’ announcement.
North Dakota wheat farmer Bob Kuylen provided an example of the trade war’s effect on American agriculture, citing $400,000 in losses since Trump took office. Speaking to MSNBC, Kuylen said farmers like him have lost almost everything since Trump’s election. “Older guys like us, we built up equities all our lives. Most farmers are land-rich and cash-poor, so we’ll take out loss loans and stuff against our land and go backwards on the land that we paid for. But there’s a lot of young farmers out there who don’t have equity and I worry about them because they’re not going to be able to withstand this.”
Since 2017, revenue from Chinese agricultural exports dropped by more than half, from $19.5 billion to $9.2 billion in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. The USDA also found that farm income has dropped 45 percent over the same period. According to the American Farm Bureau, farm bankruptcies have increased 13 percent since 2018. –Newsweek
Farmers are losing patience with the trade war, as they have become the main casualties.
Kuylen, who is also the vice president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, which has more than 50,000 member families, described his own farm’s dire situation. Formerly, Kuylen could expect “up to a dollar bonus” on the high protein wheat crops he sold to Asain markets, but the additional margin has shrunk to five cents. “We’re losing by harvesting a little bit above average crop right now,” Kuylen told MSNBC, citing a per acreage cost that now exceeded the depressed prices he would earn in returns. “One of my young neighbors told me the other day his banker said if wheat doesn’t hit $4.50, there’s going to be a bloodbath this fall,” Kuylen said. “It’s not looking good for farmers at all.”
The Trump administration has tried to mitigate some of the damage with a $16 billion direct aid package to farmers, complete with $14.5 billion going to cash payments and $1.4 billion in bulk purchases by the government. However, a review by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization best known for promoting organic foods, found that more than half of payments made to U.S. farmers went disproportionately to the largest farms, with the top one percent receiving an average of more than $180,000, while 80 percent of subsidized farms were given less than $5,000.-Newsweek