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