Ahlin: Another whopper: Trump 'LOVES' farmers
The old saw says that tigers can’t change their stripes, which begs a question: Can farmers?
The political stripes of most North Dakota farmers are redder than red. The only boxes they’ve checked or levers they’ve pulled for many years have been labeled Republican—a choice more and more curious, given their woes.
Could it be all it takes to satisfy North Dakota farmers is for President Trump to tweet—as he did last December—“Farmers I LOVE YOU!”? After all, even back then (good grief, even before the 2018 election) farmers knew Trump and his ill-conceived tariffs were killing the soybean market. Still, it was more than a wee bit sad to see ND farmers vote against their own interests by putting “Candidate-100-per-cent-with–Trump” into the Senate.
Then came January 2019, the month Trump spoke at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, jubilantly saying, “We’ve had so many good weeks and good days, and it’s only going to get better because we’re doing trade deals that are going to get you so much business, you’re not even going to believe it.”
Anybody else thinking the tag line to that should have been, “And I’ve got some swampland in Florida….”?
Now it’s March and ND farmers have Trump’s budget to digest, which pretty much makes them look foolish. As a Bloomberg article carried in The Forum put it, “budget cuts…will slash subsidies for crop insurance and small growers. ” (Growers making under $500,000 per year are hit hardest.)
It’s as if ND farmers had gone to the ballot box to show the world they wanted fewer markets, fewer subsidies and lower commodity prices.
A look at government departments slated for substantial cuts under the new Trump budget shows agriculture as a loser—a loser to the tune of $3.6 billion in discretionary funds. (That’s a 15 percent cut.) In addition, Trump’s budget is projected to decrease federal crop insurance subsidies, which is expected to net the government $22.1 billion by 2029.
Do ND farmers think it’s their job to pay for Trump’s goofball wall?
Here’s the clincher: Farmers are losing, and yet, government spending and the deficit are going up.
In a recent Washington Post article titled “The federal deficit ballooned at start of new fiscal year, up 77 percent from a year before,” reporter Damian Paletta quoted former Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota as saying, “It’s big tax cuts combined with big increases in spending when they already had big deficits. So guess what, it’s craziness.”
The deficit ballooned 77 percent while farmers took it in the shorts. (Remember, candidate—businessman—Trump declared bankruptcy six times. In Trump’s orbit others take it in the shorts.)
Farmers can take heart Trump’s budget won’t make it through Congress.
Still, with agriculture clearly on Trump’s chopping block, farmers have to know how meaningless Trump’s “LOVE” is. The question for the future is whether ND farmers start seeing red instead of voting it.