Regardless of Donald Trump's promise of more federal aid for farmer's who are being devastated by his trade war, the Wall Street Journal reports that those same farmers believe they are caught in a long term death spiral created by the president that temporary fixes can't repair.
"Agriculture has been among the U.S. economic sectors hit hardest by the yearlong trade conflict with China. Now that a deal has slipped from the grasp of negotiators, farmers are facing the likelihood that the deepest downturn in the agricultural economy since the 1980s could be prolonged," the Journal reports while noting the Trump Administration is cobbling together an aid package estimated to come in at $15 to $20 billion.
According to farmers, that amount will not make up for the loss of agricultural sales to China -- the focus of Trump's trade war.
“Though we are glad that the administration is considering additional assistance,” explained Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union in a statement, “such temporary solutions are not sufficient to address the permanent damage the trade war has inflicted on agricultural export markets.”
Farmers on the ground agree.
According to April Hemmes, a fourth-generation Iowa farmer who is looking at having to dip into her retirement account to make payments to the bank, "Weather and markets we can’t do a whole lot about,” but farmers are bearing "the brunt of the trade war."
Hemmes related that she and other farmers went to Washington months ago and were told by lawmakers and administration officials that a trade would be in place by the end of April. When it didn't happen, "That’s when true despair kind of hit,” she explained.
“We don’t want bailouts,” added Mel Egolf, a farmer in Indiana whose family farm produces corn, soybeans and dairy products. “We want reliable markets where we have a chance to sell our crop abroad.”
Talking about his history of farming, Egolf praised his son's ability as a dairy farmer but said that the prices have collapsed so far that it is impossible to make a living.
“My boy has a stellar herd of cows,” explained Mr. Egolf, "[He] could get milk out of a pop can and he knows cows like nobody. Last month, he got the same paid price as milk as what I got when I graduated high school in 1972 -- you can’t live on that.”
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