“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.”
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.”
Farm income is way down, bankruptcies are way up, and farmers are relying on government payments to make ends meet.
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) August 13, 2019
Perdue’s characterization of struggling farmers as “whiners” came after the Trump administration announced it will impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept. 1, a significant escalation in the ongoing trade war between the two global powers.
China quickly retaliated by canceling all purchases of U.S. agricultural products, a move American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall called “a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.”
With farmers suffering from his trade policies, Trump has attempted to tamp down backlash with targeted aid packages—but, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), most of the assistance has gone to wealthy farmers.
Meanwhile, as HuffPost reported on Monday, “Net farm income in America has plunged by nearly half over the last five years from $123.4 billion in 2013 to $63 billion last year. It plummeted by 16 percent last year alone.”
Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said last week that Trump’s “strategy of constant escalation and antagonism” toward China has “made things worse.”
“It’s really, really getting bad out here,” added Bob Kuylen, a North Dakota farmer, in an interviewwith CNBC. “Trump is ruining our markets.”
Former UK consulate worker says Chinese secret police tortured him
A former employee of Britain's consulate in Hong Kong said Wednesday that Chinese secret police tortured and interrogated him about London's role in protests in the semi-autonomous city.
Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, claimed he was shackled to a steel "tiger chair", hung spread-eagled on a "steep X-Cross" and beaten while he was detained for 15 days in August.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Cheng's allegations are credible and that the treatment "amounts to torture".
Raab told BBC radio that he summoned the Chinese ambassador to denounce the "disgraceful" and "outrageous behaviour from the authorities in China" which violate international law.
Sondland briefed Pompeo on Trump’s Ukraine scheme — and secretary of state signed off on it: report
President Donald Trump's ambassador to the European Union kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the loop on efforts to pressure Ukraine's president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.
Gordon Sondland notified Pompeo in mid-August of a draft statement he'd produced with another U.S. diplomat and Ukrainian officials that they hoped would persuade Trump to invite Volodymyr Zelensky to the Oval Office, reported the New York Times.
He and Pompeo discussed later that month the possibility of pushing Zelensky to pledge during a planned meeting with Trump in Warsaw that he would pursue the investigation sought by the U.S. president in hopes of smoothing relations between the two countries, according to two sources who were briefed on the matter.
MSNBC’s Mika shocked by Morning Joe’s withering criticism of House GOP: ‘I’ve never heard you accuse someone of that’
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski was astonished by her co-host and husband Joe Scarborough's denunciation of congressional Republicans.
The "Morning Joe" hosts agreed GOP attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart fighting in the Iraq War, and other impeachment inquiry witnesses were shameful, but Scarborough went even further in his criticism.
"People talk about the time, 'It's a time we're in,' -- no, it's not," Scarborough said. "It's lack of character among people on these committees, just a lack of character and a lack of love of country that they put their political party above their country."