AEI economists say farmers have ‘beef’ with Trump
Two prominent economists associated with the American Enterprise Institute said Thursday that farmers have reason to be upset with President Donald Trump over his trade policies.
“Soybean producers have a legitimate beef with the Trump administration,” said Vincent Smith, the Montana State University professor who is director of agricultural studies at AEI, amidst reports that China has stopped buying U.S. soybeans.
But Smith also said he does not see any reason for the Agriculture Department to use the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation to protect the farmers against losses due to reactions from foreign countries upset by the Trump administration’s plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Farmers have crop insurance and commodity programs that should protect them from lower prices, Smith said.
“They already have a comfy cushion,” Smith said. ‘It is a difficult as a practical matter to see why you would introduce a special program.”
Daniel Sumner of the University of California at Davis also told The Hagstrom Report that farmers hurt by the administration’s trade policies have “a beef” with Trump.
Sumner said that even though the tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum have not yet gone into effect, California farmers including wine and almond producers are already worried. “Even if the tariffs don’t happen, the rhetoric has effects,” he said.
Sumner also said that Mexican buyers of U.S. dairy products — “reasonable business people in Mexico” — began months ago to contact New Zealand dairy producers about becoming a supplier because the Mexicans are worried about the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation.
The comments took place in reaction to a question from The Hagstrom Report during a discussion of the farm bill.
Smith, Sumner, and John Beghin and Barry Goodwin of North Carolina State University all expressed disappointment in the House Agriculture Committee farm bill, and called for reductions in U.S. involvement in U.S. agriculture except for publicly funded agricultural research.