More than three-quarters of rural voters in the Farm Belt voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but many of them are now bearing the heavy burden from Trump’s trade war with China.
Robert Ewoldt, a soybean farmer in Iowa, told CNN Wednesday that his income has been cut in half since China stopped buying his soybeans.
“This is survival at this point,” he said. “For a lot of operations, it is a survival thing.”
CNN pointed out that across the midwest, farm incomes are down while bankruptcies are on the rise.
Ewoldt said he had regrets voting for Trump, and he’s not the only one. “I’ll never vote for him again,” farmer Larry Angler said. He expects to lose over $100,000 this year alone.
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“This is survival at this point.”
American farmers are running out of patience with President Trump's trade war with China, and some tell @martinsavidge they regret voting for the President. https://t.co/sjjXDZY3El pic.twitter.com/FMkNxLPBDm
— CNN (@CNN) May 15, 2019
The farmers aren’t the only ones affected. Equipment manufacturers who supply midwestern farms are getting hurt from the low demand.
“Tariffs are taxes on everyday Iowans,” president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Dennis Slater wrote in an op-ed for the Iowa City Press-Citizen last month.
“They are paid for by Iowa families, farmers, businesses, workers, and communities throughout the state. While there’s a lot that needs to be done when it comes to addressing China’s unfair trade practices, the Trump administration’s tariffs won’t fix the problem.”
Trump’s solution is to bail out the farmers with a $15 billion support package, $3 billion more than the one he handed out last year to make up for losses from tariffs.
But the president’s usual supporters in Congress aren’t liking the idea.
“It’s a very bad policy,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told reporters Wednesday.
“Think about what we’re doing. We’re inviting this retaliation that denies our farmers — the most productive farmers on the planet — the opportunity to sell their products overseas and then we say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have taxpayers send you some checks and make it OK.’ That’s a very bad approach.”
Farmers are feeling the consequences of the bailout. Ewoldt said he still has a third of last year’s crop in storage, and this year, he’s planning on losing more money than he’s bringing in.