Trump Hurts Farmers with Inexperienced Campaign Workers At USDA

 

As if the struggling agriculture sector wasn’t already suffering enough incompetence and damage from Trump, there was a report late last week with some more bad news for farmers courtesy of more Trump incompetence, disregard for expertise, and remuneration to his campaign’s supporters. It didn’t take long for a fair number of Americans to realize that Trump’s definition of highly-qualified government officials is how much money and support they delivered to Republicans and his campaign;  his cabinet appointees and White House staff bear out that assertion. So the news that he appointed a truck driver, a cabana attendant, a lawn mowing service owner, and a scented candle-maker to high-level positions at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), although appalling, shouldn’t shock anyone.

Now first it is important to note there is nothing wrong with truck drivers, cabana attendants or scented candle makers; they all provide important services to the public. However, since those people have no experience or expertise in the agriculture sector or international trade, it is abominable that they are now in government jobs crucial to a successful agriculture industry that Trump has personally impacted negatively and possibly permanently. If his intent was to do as much damage in as short a time as humanly possible to a crucial American industry, this is the one area where Trump is winning; and winning big.

A couple of days ago Politico published the results of its review of “dozens” of Trump’s political appointees’ résumés to work at USDA headquarters. What the résumés revealed was that the federal agency overseeing agriculture in America was staffed with campaign workers and volunteers who not only have no experience in federal policy, they are bereft of any experience, let alone “deep roots,” in agriculture.

According to Politico’s review of 42 appointees’ résumés, 22 of them cited “Trump campaign experience” as the reason they deserve important positions and “higher” government salaries. As Politico reported, a fair number of those appointees may have volunteered for Trump’s campaign, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of “required” credentials, such as a college degree, the federal government requires to qualify for significant government salaries.

Sources who are familiar with the USDA’s inner workings say what is different about Trump’s appointees compared to other presidents is that there is an inordinate number of former campaign staffers and volunteers who were “rewarded” with high-level positions and salaries with no experience in agriculture. It isn’t abnormal to reward loyalty and service, but it is extraordinary to appoint “loyalists” or “funders” with no experience. Those USDA  sources say, as any half-wit understands,   “inexperience will lead to mistakes” and “sidetrack a president’s agenda.” Trump’s agenda thus far appears to be damaging the agriculture industry, so it is possible his appointing know-nothing sycophants is part of his agenda of further damaging American farmers.

The Executive Director of American Oversight, Austin Evers, provided the résumés to Politico for their review after filing a Freedom of Information Act request. Mr. Evers said his organization sought out résumés for Trump’s political appointees across the federal government and discovered “an abundance of former campaign workers” in jobs they have no qualifications for. He said:

The theme that emerges is pretty clear: What do you have to do to get an administration job? Work on the campaign. There is a clear prioritization of one attribute, and that is loyalty.

Of course Trump Agriculture Department issued a statement defending the highly paid former campaign workers saying:

All of the appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill at USDA.

It isn’t exactly clear what role at the USDA requires cabana attendant or scented candle maker skills, or long-haul truck drivers for that matter, but as a third generation member of a farm family, it doesn’t seem reasonable that those jobs will be beneficial to helping farmers succeed; especially after Trump has damaged the industry with his ineptitude on international trade, immigration, and denying climate change.

One of those appointees, the long haul truck driver, will be at the USDA Foreign Agriculture service to assist the agency’s all important task of “developing overseas markets for U.S. Agricultural trade goods.” He was hired on at one of the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale and besides citing his “campaign field representative” credentials on his résumé, he boasted his experience at “hauling agricultural commodities” with a truck; something that should impress overseas markets to no end.

The cabana attendant earned a job with the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service that aids “producers of food, fiber and specialty crop growers market their goods.” Politico noted that the “attendant’s only example of work experience prior to joining Trump’s campaign was a short stint as a country club cabana attendant in New York while he was in school earning a degree in history from the University of Scranton in 2016.

One might think that foreknowledge of an industry struggling would prompt Trump to appoint experts in the field, but this is Trump. His incompetence informs why he is appointing inexperienced “loyalists” whose jobs it is to aid farmers that Trump has already caused more grief than they deserve; even though they almost certainly helped put him in the White House. Those farmers are just as responsible for their own woes.

After damaging the industry with his anti-immigration policies that have left farmers crying over their rotting crops due to difficulty finding experienced field workers, Trump exited a trade agreement that favored American farmers. His threats to leave another trade agreement sent America’s agricultural trading partners to seek more amenable trade agreements has already cost the agriculture sector dearly. And his denial that farmers suffering drought conditions are being affected by global climate change portends more long-term damage to farmers.

Now the federal agency tasked with aiding farmers is staffed with people with no experience in agriculture or international trade. It is beginning to appear that Trump is purposely doing everything in his power to decimate the agriculture sector in the same manner he is harming the rest of the federal government; appointing inexperienced people to important federal government positions because they worked on his campaign.

 

 

 

Farmers’ Crops Are Rotting in the Fields Thanks To Trump

At this juncture it would be difficult, if not impossible, to list the myriad ways Trump has hurt America and, more importantly, Americans. Whether it was his actions such as devastating executive orders abolishing protections for the environment, or his threats to withhold funding that sent the insurance industry into a panic-driven increase in healthcare insurance premiums, he has proven himself to be a friend of no-one but Nazi fascists, white supremacists, and Donald J. Trump. However, although the media is being swamped with outrages against decency committed by the occupant in the White House on a daily basis, they should show a bit more interest in the plight of the agriculture industry and Americans’ access to its produce.

Back in late April after a farcical “Roundtable on Agriculture” and executive order signing ceremony, Trump did what was expected and lied through his teeth about his high regard for “agriculture and rural prosperity in America.” For those of us who have been keeping score, Trump has singlehandedly wrought more damage on the agriculture industry with a couple of ill-advised moves than any administration in history. And the American people are going to pay the price; many, many farmers have already paid the price.

After praising himself at the “Roundtable on Agriculture” Trump announced:

They [farmers] had a very good day.  We’re doing well, very well.  Things are turning around.  I know they’re turning around for you folks, so I just want to welcome you very much to the White House.

So this is promoting agriculture and rural prosperity in America.  And, now, there’s a lot of words I won’t bother reading everything.  But agriculture and rural prosperity in America, that’s what we want.  And we don’t want to be taken advantage of by other countries — and that’s stopping, and that’s stopping fast.”

Kind of like “getting tired of winning,” the only thing that Trump is stopping is agriculture and rural prosperity that is indeed turning around; but it is going in the wrong direction for the American agriculture industry and in the ‘winning’ direction for the rest of the world. And, what that wrong direction amounts to for farmers is watching their crops rot in the fields because they are facing an impossible task of finding field laborers with expertise to harvest and process the crops to get them to market in a timely fashion.

In the third or fourth report in a couple of months about how Trump’s immigration and trade policy is singlehandedly hurting an already struggling agriculture sector, farmers are crying, literally crying, that they cannot find the people qualified to harvest their crops. Unlike most other industries, agriculture is an extremely time sensitive industry where harvesting crops at precisely the right time is the key to success. But harvesting in a timely manner is an issue many farmers aren’t even having to face because they cannot find field workers to harvest at any time due to Trump’s immigration policy.

Farmers in California have continued reporting that they are having extreme difficulty in finding, much less hiring, enough experienced people to do the dirty work during harvest season causing crops to rot in the fields. According to a report by NBC News, that difficulty has already “triggered losses of more than $13 million in just two counties;” and the harvest season is just getting underway. What that means for American consumers is that vegetable and fruit prices are going to rise substantially because the migrant farm workers with expertise to harvest quickly and efficiently are nowhere to be found.

All of the blame for the shortage of field workers is being attributed to “the ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policy” since Trump won the election; the troubles started months before he was in the White House. Although migrant farm workers are integral to agriculture nation wide, “the vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico.

As noted in a report from the PEW Research Center, not only are migrant workers not making the trip North to work and help feed Americans, after Trump’s election more Mexicans are fleeing America than are coming here. And it is noteworthy that because of Trump, there is nothing farmers can do to entice immigrant labor to risk working in the fields; even if they are American citizens or are authorized to work in the United States; and who can blame them?

The blame certainly is not on the farmers, unless it is for voting for the imbecile who did tell them his raison d’être in the Oval Office is purging Mexicans from the nation that won him the unwavering support of the white supremacist cult. Now those farmers who admit they supported Trump have to take extraordinary steps to lure migrant workers to the fields with no success.

Those extraordinary steps include trying to make the dirty jobs more appealing and worth the risk of being hunted down, arrested, and roughed up by Trump’s ICE brown shirts. Farmers are offering actual “salaries” well above the minimum wage as opposed to “piece work,” offering paid time off for vacations and illness, and 401(k) retirement plans. Despite those benefits and higher salaries, it is not nearly enough. And the travesty is this issue is plaguing farmers across the nation.

Despite what Trump says, the American agriculture sector is in big trouble due to his racist immigration policy and isolationist trade incompetence. In July, it was reported here that Trump’s threat to pull out of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) prompted Mexico to shift to its “plan B” that entails making trade deals for its agricultural products with other nations.

Just talking about scuttling a trade pact since he took office prompted Mexican farmers to go to their Plan B and has driven “American soybean exports to Mexico to decrease 15 percent, corn has dropped 6 percent; and chicken dropped 11 percent; it is the largest decline of 14 years.”  Trump’s big mouth is making those “rural states” that helped put him in the White House worried sick that their primary industry will take more significant economic hits than have already occurred.

Add to that terrible farm news was Trump’s unilaterally withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP). It was an incompetent error that incited Japan and the European Union to reach a monumental trade deal that leaves America’s agriculture sector with crushing tariffs on its products that were slated for extinction under TPP. Now, the tariffs remain on American products while the EU, Japan, and remaining signatories to the “free trade” agreement will eliminate tariffs for participating nations putting America’s farmers in a horrible position; inability to compete.

Although it appears Trump’s immigration and trade incompetence will only have a deleterious effect on the agriculture sector, and it is already costing them dearly, it is the American consumers who are going to pay a healthy price, literally, for fresh fruit, vegetables, and livestock products.

Every time a farmer has to watch their crops rot in the field, or our former trading partners ship their products to other nations with competent trading policies, the price of food for Americans is going to rise significantly. And it is noteworthy that all of this is down to the incompetency of the Trump administration; not the farmers, not the migrant farm workers, and not America’s trading partners.

Image: TheGuardian

Trump Is Singlehandedly Decimating America’s Agriculture Sector

If Donald Trump has a reputation in business, it is as a crooked operator who bilks his creditors, investors, contractors, and suppliers alike and files bankruptcy at about six or seven times the rate most people get a divorce. Trump brought that notorious business acumen to the Oval Office and has already put the hurt on American agriculture with an ill-advised threat to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As reported here about a month ago, just the uncertainty of Trump’s intent for NAFTA has cost the American agriculture industry dearly as Mexico rapidly resorted to its “plan B” and made fabulous deals with several other reliable nations and markets. The losers, as usual, are some of Trump’s staunchest supporters and the rest of the population that will suffer the consequences of an isolationist malcontent in the White House.

It has been a couple of months since Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), but now the already struggling agricultural sector has another reason to mourn the idiot in the White House. The massive 12-nation trade agreement was set up to be extremely friendly, and highly profitable, to American agriculture because it covered “a whopping 40 percent of the world’s economy.” Since expanded agricultural trade and elimination of tariffs for American products was hard fought, and won by President Obama, for American farmers the Trans Pacific Partnership was a lifeline.

The agriculture sector hailed President Obama’s efforts, and success, at giving American farmers their long sought after chance to eliminate tariffs imposed by nations in the TPP. Those tariffs restricted “the onetime breadbasket” of the world from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of agricultural products such as Japan and Vietnam. Now, those products are going to be sold by many other nations that comprehend the benefits of “free trade” sans “punishing tariffs” and eagerly grabbed the TPP lifeline for their agricultural sector.

With an isolationist fascist and incompetent business failure in the White House, that “lifeline” for America’s farmers vanished faster than America’s “already struggling agriculture sector.” The only positive in this horrendous news is that the “struggling agriculture sector,” a huge Trump support group, will suffer before the rest of the population; but they still continue to support him because he pledged to make America white again. According to a report in Politico, even farmers who are scared to death their businesses are set to succumb at the hands of a notoriously inept businessman in the White House still support Trump.

Trump’s incredibly boneheaded stunt of pulling out of the world’s biggest trade deal is being described as  “a double hit on most agricultural producers,” and one in particular is a prime example of what happens with an isolationist moron in the White House.

In Eagle Grove, Iowa, the trade deal promised an increase of $10 billion in agricultural output over the next decade according to conservative estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission. It is noteworthy too that the $10 billion figure is “an increase” in output that means a monumental increase in income, jobs and profits.

Now, those “increases” will not materialize because of Trump and it portends even more damage than just losing a projected $10 billion and the jobs it would deliver. Not only did Trump’s decision to withdraw from the trade pact wipe out American farmers’ ability to sell their goods to the 11 other nations making up 40 percent of the Earth’s economy with no tariffs, it virtually eliminated America’s agriculture sector as a global competitor.

It opened the floodgates for “rival exporters” such as Australia, New Zealand and the European Union to negotiate even lower tariffs with importing nations. Add to that a recently announced extraordinarily enormous trade agreement between the European Union and Japan and it doesn’t look promising for America’s struggling agriculture sector; especially after President Obama negotiated phenomenally good deals for American producers. Trump’s screw-up created greater competitive advantages for several other nation-producers over American agricultural exports. America’s farmers should expect even more bad news in the coming months, if not weeks, as the rest of the world stops needing American agricultural products.

According to a Politico analysis, the remaining 11 countries still in the TPP are actively engaged in a stunning 27 separate trade negotiations with each other; including with other major trading powers in the Pacific region like China and massive blocs like the EU. Those 27 deals without the United States range from exploratory negotiations to deals already signed and awaiting ratification. And, because of Trump, seven of the most significant deals that would have been extremely beneficial for America’s agriculture sector have been concluded without U.S. participation or inclusion since Trump withdrew America from the substantial trade agreement five months ago. Anyone in, or remotely connected to, the agricultural sector should be horrified at what their white hero did to their families, their industry, and their means of income.

One North Carolina-based family pork and poultry business made a huge investment in processing plants in anticipation of an equally huge return due to TPP favoring America’s farmers. Now Ron Prestage says, “I’m scared to death;” and he should be.  Mr. Prestage said his family already started digging the wells and moving dirt for another new processing plant and he fears they may have gone “beyond the point of no return on the new plant.”

According to an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, Dermot Hayes, the idea of farmers and the agriculture sector making big investments based on an epic “free trade” deal is not just normal; it is a good and savvy business investment. Mr. Hayes said in referring to the Prestage operation and other pork-industry investments, “At the time those investment decisions were made, the U.S. had never turned down a free trade opportunity.

Of course the United States has never had a self-professed genius with no interest or knowledge of international trade in the White House either, so maybe Trump shafting the agriculture sector was unexpected; especially from his staunch supporters in the agriculturally rich Midwest.

Mr. Hayes noted that the livestock industry in particular had “in its sights a future of expansion amid soaring export growth.” But with Trump withdrawing from TPP, all of that expansion and soaring export growth “has pretty much disappeared.”

It wasn’t just the livestock industry that harbored the highest expectations on the back of President Obama’s hard work.

Most in the industry expected a boom from exports as a result of TPP, with continued strong sales made possible by NAFTA.”

In one growing and highly profitable market for American farmers producers were set to expand sales of organ meat and other items not easily sold domestically, because Vietnam was completely eliminating its tariffs on American products altogether under TPP. It is why “free trade” is beneficial for all the party’s involved – no or low tariffs are a dream scenario for exporters but not acceptable to a “no-account business genius” like that imbecile Trump.

Now, because there is an idiot in the White House, those tariffs, like every other nations’ tariffs, remain in place for American agricultural products because the United States ruled by dumb Don is not interested in “free trade.” Unfortunately, a growing number of countries are not interested in any kind of trade with America for one good reason; they have already negotiated and signed trade agreements with many other reliable and fair trading partners.

Trump’s record in business is littered with broken and bankrupt companies due to his so-called “renowned business acumen,” and now the record can add America’s agricultural sector among the pile of Trump’s destruction. And in case any American thinks that because they aren’t farmers Trump’s handiwork will not affect them, wait until they have to pay $10 to $15 for a tomato out of season and then watch America’s agriculture industry go bankrupt; all because they supported a corrupt con man who promised to make America white again.

h/t Politico

Trump’s Big Mouth Is Hurting American Farmers

 

It is likely that more than a few Americans have heard the phrase, “running your mouth,” and they probably know that it means “talking shit, stirring shit, or letting your mouth run off without thinking.” Of course this is a perfectly apt description of the current occupant of the White House who has done little more than “run his mouth” since before idiot Americans installed him in the Oval Office. By now only a comatose American is unaware that Trump’s habit of running his mouth has caused more than a few of our allies and neighbors to distance themselves from the America Trump rules. Maybe some Americans even know that Trump has tarnished America’s image on six continents because he just can’t stop running his mouth; especially over issues he has no business talking about, like trade.

Trump has demonstrated that although he has no qualms hurting every American alive who isn’t filthy rich, it is his base of support who are bound to feel the effects of a bloviate know-nothing first. And one of those groups has already complained bitterly that Trump is hurting their livelihood with his big mouth, and now they are speaking out again that Trump is creating a world of economic hurt without implementing a policy he has been running his mouth about ad nauseam; international trade.

Farmers across the nation were already bemoaning loud mouth Trump’s so-called immigration crackdown that is making it nearly impossible for them to find experienced field workers, and now they are crying over Trump’s anti-trade pact rhetoric that is costing them dearly. Trump ignorantly claims the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) destroyed America since its inception, especially singling out manufacturing jobs, but like everything Trump runs his mouth about he is wrong. Like the coal industry Trump champions, manufacturing jobs have been primarily lost to mechanization, not trade pacts. It is noteworthy that what few remaining manufacturing jobs have been lost were sent to China, not nations in NAFTA.

No matter if someone hates international trade agreements or not, NAFTA has been a boon to the agricultural export industry and the farmers and organizations that make up the industry are reporting their trading partners south of the border are not pleased any more than the American farmers are.

A couple of months ago the president of the U.S. Grains Council, Thomas Sleight, had to fly to Mexico to calm his organization’s worried trading partners who gave him a “frosty” greeting. It is an understatement to claim the Mexican agricultural trading partners are unimpressed with Trump; and not just because he regularly portrayed the Mexican people as “rapists” and “criminals.” Mr. Sleight said his customers were “annoyed” and “were insulted, really.” He added that “you don’t do that to your best customers.”

Sleight also related that “his customers” wanted to know “just why the president thought NAFTA was such a bad deal;” particularly when the NAFTA-created agricultural trade is highly regarded on all sides of the border as a “raging success.”

Indeed, since NAFTA was signed, Canada and Mexico have become, by far, “America’s largest export markets for American corn, pork, dairy, soybeans and poultry.” In fact, overall, total exports resulting from NAFTA grew from just $9 billion in 1993 to $41 billion by 2014. What that means for American farmers is that a little over “one of every ten” planted acres in America feeds Mexicans and Canadians; and those Mexicans and Canadians are pouring billions of dollars into America’s economy.

As Mr. Sleight noted when Trump was running his big mouth and badmouthing NAFTA as a raging failure, all he accomplished besides pissing off our neighbors is “create a problem for the American agricultural industry that had previously never existed.” But that’s what happens when a two-bit know-nothing “lets his mouth run off without thinking;” not that Trump ever does much “thinking.”

In Georgia recently, the top agricultural officials from Mexico, Canada and America met to discuss the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations and the “overwhelming consensus was that they all wanted NAFTA left alone.”

However, due to Trump’s big mouth and opposition to international trade agreements; “farmers in the Midwest, import-and-export associations in southern Arizona, and the biggest national agricultural groups are already seeing a negative impact and it may be too late to undo some of the damage.”

While Mr. Sleight was attempting to calm the Mexican farmers’ worries, all he “constantly heard was talk of their ‘Plan B’ in case they couldn’t buy or sell their products in the U.S.” In fact, many Mexican customers had already met with trade representatives from Argentina because that nation is not averse to international trade and would welcome tapping into a large portion of the $41 billion in agriculture sales. The ‘Plan B’ news prompted Sleight to say, “You know, those markets are critical. If we were to lose those you can’t make that up. You can’t just snap your finger and make that up.

Even without “renegotiating” NAFTA, Trump’s big mouth has cost American farmers dearly besides their inability to find field workers with expertise. Since he took office and Mexican farmers began exploring their Plan B, “American soybean exports to Mexico have dropped 15 percent, corn has dropped 6 percent; and chicken dropped 11 percent; the largest decline of 14 years.”  And those “rural states” that helped put Trump in the White House are worried sick that their primary industry will take more significant economic hits than have already occurred.

The president of the Fresh Produce Association of the America’s, Lance Jungmeyer, spoke for the Arizona-based import-export association and said Americans will suffer from a lack of seasonally-fresh fruits and vegetables if Mexico goes to its “Plan B. Now you go to the store and you get whatever you want.”

Jungmeyer also said that no matter what happens with NAFTA negotiations, the damage thus far it exactly what investors warn about when some idiot starts running their mouth.

When you have a threat, or even the possibility of a threat, of shutting down trade, that creates a real concern in people’s lives. They certainly are very worried about what next year looks like.”

That uncertainty about trade, a bonafide economic threat, entails nearly everything remotely related to Trump running his mouth and just one reason why he is despised on six continents. But although he represents a threat to world peace as much as world trade, it is the American agriculture industry that is feeling the economic pain now. If there weren’t innocent Americans and Mexican farmers feeling the pain, there would be a sense of justice for the people that elected Trump to feel a $41 billion hit on their industry and state economies. But sadly, they aren’t the only people in line for a healthy dose of damage from the loud mouth in the White House. Maybe when the American people have to pay $13 for a fresh tomato or bell pepper out of season, they will remember why and think twice about ever casting a vote for a con man that “talks shit, stirs shit, and lets his mouth run off.