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The Guardians of Democracy

Farmers Union VP: Farmers Have ‘Pretty Much Lost All Our Markets Since Trump Took Over’


Farmers Union VP: Farmers Have ‘Pretty Much Lost All Our Markets Since Trump Took Over’

Bob Kuylen, North Dakota wheat farmer and vice president of the North Dakota Farmer’s Union, says he’s lost $400,000 because of President Trump’s trade war with China.

Kuylen’s remarks come as Trump’s latest trade war maneuver went into effect, applying a 15 percent duty on approximately $110 billion in Chinese consumer goods.

“We lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over,” Kuylen said during an appearance on MSNBC.

“Older guys like us, we built up equities all our lives. Most farmers are land-rich and cash-poor, so we’ll take out loss loans and stuff against our land and go backwards on the land that we paid for. But there’s a lot of young farmers out there who don’t have equity and I worry about them, because they’re not going to be able to withstand this,” he added.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, revenue from Chinese agricultural exports dropped by more than half since 2017, from $19.5 billion to $9.2 billion in 2018.

The USDA also found that farm income has dropped 45 percent over the same period.

Farm bankruptcies have increased 13 percent since 2018, according to the American Farm Bureau.

China, the fourth largest export market for American farms, suspended purchase of U.S. agricultural products in response to the tariffs’ announcement in August.

Kuylen noted that he could normally expect “up to a dollar bonus” on the high protein wheat crops he sold to Asain markets, but the additional margin has shrunk to five cents. “We’re losing by harvesting a little bit above average crop right now,” Kuylen told MSNBC, citing a per acreage cost that now exceeded the depressed prices he would earn in returns.

“One of my young neighbors told me the other day his banker said if wheat doesn’t hit $4.50, there’s going to be a bloodbath this fall,” Kuylen said. “It’s not looking good for farmers at all.”

Newsweek notes:

While Kuylen did not vote for Trump, he knows farmers who did and predicts their business interests will conflict with their loyalty to the president. “If it’s between supporting the president or losing your family farm — this is something we’ve had in our family for four generations and I know there’s families with five or six generations on the same farm — if they’re going to lose that, I think they’re going to lose their loyalty very fast.”

The New York Times found widespread dissatisfaction among farmers in attendance at Farmfest in Minnesota in August, where attendees booed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue after he told telling a joke about how two farmers in a basement are called “a whine cellar.”

The Trump administration has tried to mitigate some of the damage with a $16 billion direct aid package to farmers, complete with $14.5 billion going to cash payments and $1.4 billion in bulk purchases by the government. However, a review by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization best known for promoting organic foods, found that more than half of payments made to U.S. farmers went disproportionately to the largest farms, with the top one percent receiving an average of more than $180,000, while 80 percent of subsidized farms were given less than $5,000.


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