Friday, August 30, 2019

Trump's war on agriculture - the bread basket might, finally, turn on Trump

Last night (August 29) Rachel Maddow reminded us of one thing that the Trump administration did that harms farmers. Remember that a while back the Ag Secretary, Sonny Purdue, started to move two Ag research units out of DC and into Kansas City. The move was brutal. The scientists were given a short time to voluntarily retire or be fired. The net results was that many of those scientists quit - and are not coming back. So what about the work they did? It turns out, as Rachel reported, that the Ag Department is no longer able to produce reports required by statute that help Congress decide on Ag policy. Here is her 8/29 show on YouTube. The hot stuff previewed here starts at around 21:10.

Here is more on the war on agriculture waged by the Trump administration.

Ag chief: Farmers are whiners

Farmers Hit Back as USDA Chief Sonny Perdue Mocks Those Harmed by Trump Trade War as ‘Whiners’. “He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.”

Yeah, he really said that.

Farmers facing record bankruptcies and collapsing incomes due to President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China were not amused by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s joke about their economic pain during an event in Minnesota last week.

“I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania,” Perdue told an audience of thousands of farmers gathered in a barn near Morgan, Minnesota. “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.”

Some laughed at the agriculture secretary’s joke, but other farmers booed and denounced Perdue’s wisecrack as callous and tone-deaf mockery of the real hardship caused by the Trump administration’s trade policies.

“It was definitely not an appropriate thing to say,” Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, told HuffPost on Monday. “It was very insensitive. It took everyone by surprise. He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.”

Then Perdue’s offending attitude went national.

A market lost by trade war

National Farmers Union Head Scorches Trump: He’s Offended ‘Pretty Much Every Ally’ On Earth. China is a now a “lost market” for agriculture, said Roger Johnson as he sounded the alarm on U.S. farmers’ dire situation in Trump’s failing trade war. Snippets follow.

Trump has “offended the leaders of pretty much every ally we have on Earth,” and America’s reputation in markets around the world has taken a long-lasting hit, Johnson said in an interview on KFGO radio in Fargo, North Dakota. “It’s going to take much different behavior from future presidents in order to repair this damage,” he said.

And he’s saying it in a rather Red agricultural state.

As for how Trump is dealing with China, Johnson added: “I don’t think you can expect to make the fundamental changes that are being asked of China while every other day you’re offending them, you’re forcing them to lose face. No country’s going to make changes when they’re embarrassed along the way. That’s just not how you do things.”

He called many of Trump’s policy decisions “very harmful to agriculture; all the trade disruption has been enormously damaging.”

Johnson said the U.S. will suffer “reputational damage … for literally decades.” He also noted that “trade actions that this president have taken have done damage to lots of other parts of the economy” as well.

Johnson slammed the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency — reportedly ordered by Trump — to grant waivers to 31 petroleum refineries effectively exempting them from having to use more corn-based ethanol in their products. It was yet another blow to struggling corn farmers in deference to what Johnson called the “wealthiest oil companies on the face of the planet.”

KFGO interviewer Joel Heitkamp noted: “You can see how mad ag producers are when they see that big oil got the exemptions … it’s like the light finally got turned on and some of these guys woke up.”

Farmers “are in a lot of financial stress right now; net farm income is half of what it was six years ago,” said Johnson.

“This is really tough,” he warned. “We’re in a really, really difficult spot right now.

The farmers should try relieving their stress at the ballot box. They helped put Trump in the White House. They can darn well help getting him out.

Thanks to our Roving Reporter Sherry for her tips.

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