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US farmers stressed and angry at Trump trade war

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US farmers find themselves in the crosshairs of a trade war with China and others launched by President Donald Trump, who was elected with the support of many in rural America.

On Friday, Trump announced long-threatened trade tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, sparking an immediate retaliation from Beijing on an equivalent of US products including agricultural goods, notably soy.

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“For American farmers, this isn’t theoretical anymore, it’s downright scary,” the Farmers for Free Trade lobbying group said of the prospects for escalating tariffs.

“It’s no longer a negotiating tactic, it’s a tax on their livelihoods.”

China is the largest buyer of soy beans, buying $12 billion in 2017, about 30 percent of the US harvest.

“We were already in a depressed market. These trade uncertainties add a lot of stress to this situation,” said Jamie Beyer, a farmer in Wheaton, Minnesota who grows soybean, corn, sugar beets, wheat and alfalfa.

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“We feel these tariffs are very damaging to our agricultural economy.”

Farmers are the most at risk in this trade battle, as their incomes already were falling, declining by around 50 percent since 2013, and this year expected to reach the lowest level since 2006.

– Easy target –

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The sector already was shaken up by the difficult negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, two major importers of agricultural products.

On her family farm in Oklahoma, Hope Pjesky raises cattle and grows winter wheat, and says she is “very nervous” about recent developments.

“Unfortunately, agriculture seems to be the industry that they hit back on when there is retaliation. I just wish there were a better way to go about addressing that issue,” she said.

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That is according to plan, since US trading partners have singled out American products from states strongly supportive of Trump, in hopes of increasing the pressure on him to reconsider.

But Pjesky noted that “there are a lot of people who voted for him that still have faith that it is just going to end up well.”

It is difficult to quantify the precise cost of Chinese sanctions, but Missouri corn and soybean farmer Blake Hurst said he already is seeing an impact on prices.

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The weather remains the main factor influencing the price of corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton, but the threat of renewed tensions between Beijing and Washington hit the market hard this week and the soybean price fell by more than six percent.

“It will affect our profitability” and cut the number of acres cultivated, he said.

– Trump support –

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Roger Johnson, who leads the country’s second largest agricultural union, the National Farmers Union, said the group supports the White House goal of reducing the US trade deficit.

“But our organization grows increasingly concerned that this administration does not have a plan to ensure family farmers and ranchers aren’t thrown under the bus for the sake of these goals,” he said.

Even so, few blame Trump directly.

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Hurst said many in Missouri are still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But, he cautioned, “if we don’t see any success, then patience will wear thin.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump is completely melting down — here are the 6 craziest tweets he’s made just this morning

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China's decision to slap new tariffs on $75 billion worth of American goods on Friday sent President Donald Trump into a downward mental spiral, as he was reduced to tweeting out unhinged orders and proclamations while the stock market has been plummeting downward.

On Friday morning, the president sent out a string of angry and nonsensical tweets that included attacks on the Chinese government and his own Federal Reserve chairman, as well as bizarre new orders to postal carriers.

Below, we'll recap the six craziest things Trump tweeted on Friday morning alone.

1.) Trump declares his own Federal Reserve chairman to be an "enemy." Trump was very angry that Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell did not immediately order deep interest rate cuts to combat a potential economic downturn, and the president was not shy about denouncing him in very pointed terms.

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George Conway fears Trump is ‘psychologically decompensating before our very eyes’

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President Donald Trump spent Friday morning melting down on Twitter as he watches bad economic news pour in, and conservative attorney George Conway worries he's suffering a mental breakdown.

Economists have been sounding alarms about a possible recession ahead of the 2020 election, and Trump has been alternately insisting things are fine while also trying to lay blame for a downturn at the feet of his political enemies.

Trump snapped at his own Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, who has resisted pressure by the president to lower interest rates, and attacked Chinese leader Xi Jinping over a new round of tariffs in an escalating trade war.

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Fox’s Chris Wallace stunned as ‘flailing’ Trump tries to order around US companies while the stock market plunges

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Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace seemed stunned by a series of angry tweets from Donald Trump on Friday morning, first attacking Fed Chair Jerome Powell for not lowering interest rates than exploding at China over a new round of tariffs.

Speaking with host Sandra Smith, Wallace sat and listened as she read off the president's Twitter complaints about economic events beyond his control, including one telling U.S. companies to take their manufacturing business elsewhere.

"We are just all learning of this at the same time, but the best I can tell, the American president can’t order U.S. companies how they’re going to do their sales and where they’re going to have their supply chains," Wallace lectured. "We have a free-market capitalist system."

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