That clip is from a rally Donald Trump held in Tampa on July 31 and as you can see, the President was at pains to play down media reports that America’s agricultural community is suffering from the burgeoning trade war with China.
In retaliation for the administration’s tariffs on a bevy of Chinese imports, Beijing has zeroed in on the U.S. farm belt in a clear attempt to let Trump’s base know that his policies are detrimental to those who support his populist platform.
Trump told the crowd in Florida that Beijing and other countries have “targeted” America’s farmers, which is true, although he conveniently left out the part about how it was his decision to escalate the trade tensions that forced China’s hand. Trump also claimed that farmers are more than happy to suffer in the interest of perpetuating his quixotic quest to reclaim lost American “greatness”.
Propaganda (because that’s what it is) aside, not all farmers are saying “it’s ok, we can take it.” In fact, nonprofit group Farmers for Free Trade is now running an all-out media blitz aimed at raising awareness about just how bad these policies really are for U.S. agriculture, and the overarching message is that “no, we can’t take it, and we won’t take it.” The group is spending $2.5 million on the media push.
A week before the Tampa rally, the government announced plans to implement a $12 billion bailout designed to help U.S. agriculture weather the storm. That plan leans on Depression-era measures and the very idea of resorting to subsidies is insulting to some farmers, for obvious reasons.
“Do dumb stuff then subsidize the people you most directly hurt. Shrewd. Good plan”, AQR’s Cliff Asness quipped.
“America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose – they want to win by feeding the world”, Senator Ben Sasse said when the bailout was announced, adding that “this administration’s tariffs and bailout aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
Well, guess what? Data released by the Labor Department on Tuesday showed that agricultural export prices slumped 5.3% in July from June – that’s the largest drop in nearly seven years.
Meanwhile, import prices rose 4.8% YoY thanks to a nearly 41% rise in fuel import prices. That YoY gain is the largest since 2012.
The Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex is sitting near all-time lows.
The gauge has fallen precipitously since May when the trade tensions with China began to heat up in earnest.
For the farmers out there, don’t forget to go to “shop.donaldtrump.com” and pick up one of the President’s new MAGA caps. They’re green with yellow stitching that reads “Make Our Farmers Great Again!” and they’re a real “bargain” at just $45.
Oh wait, you can’t. They’re sold out.