Reasons for Hope-or Not

In our last post LOOKING TO THE FUTURE we stated people, businesses and organizations interested in things such as free trade should get in the game now or they’ll have no place to go for help.  After all, one of the first things President Trump did was dump the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and no Democratic 2016 contender favored it. Remember Free Trade is essential to the proper functioning markets that are the core of capitalism. This week we became aware just how much work was needed to be done.  On Monday 2/13 we read an OP-ED in the Wall Street Journal we first thought was satire but apparently was a serious article. Blake Hurst the President of the Missouri Farm Bureau and  a soybean farmer authored a piece “Free Trade and How the Soybean Helped make America Great”. In it Mr. Hurst stated:

In my rural county in northwest Missouri, home to plenty of soybean farmers, Mr. Trump received about 75% of the vote. We were drawn to policies like his “two for one” executive order, which requires the removal of two regulations every time a new one is written. The vocal and at times vulgar protests against him have only solidified his support here.

But unease is growing in the more fertile parts of the hinterlands. As his trade policy comes into focus, it’s starting to scare the heck out of farmers.

Mr. Trump is now embarking on a huge economic experiment, one at odds with what had been a bipartisan commitment to increased international trade. He has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that, according to the Farm Bureau, would have increased net farm income by $4.4 billion. The president has also promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Yet since Nafta was signed, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico have increased to $18 billion in 2015 from $4.2 billion in 1994, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

A soybean farmer like me looks at Mr. Trump’s statements with particular unease. Data from the National Oilseed Processors Association show that China and Mexico, both targets of Mr. Trump’s trade policy, were the top buyers of American soybeans in 2015.

The question crying to be answered is where was Blake Hurst and the Missouri Farm Bureau before the election? For that matter where was the American farm Bureau? Trump  swept  rural agricultural America. If farmers are just now getting scared for their livelihoods, maybe it’s because the people they relied on to make them aware of major threats to their well-being failed them. Continue reading