Congress returns amid farm dissatisfaction in farm country
Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to return to Washington today after a lengthy recess in which President Donald Trump’s policies on trade and ethanol have come under increasing criticism in farm country.
In a lengthy story, The New York Times noted farmers complaining. However, a Bloomberg story said a higher percentage of farmers support Trump now than a year ago.
The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service said net farm income is up, but analyses attributed the increase to a combination of reduced costs and federal government payments.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson told reporters in August that the farm payments through the Commodity Credit Corporation could make it difficult to develop support for the next farm bill. Johnson said it was particularly “dangerous” that USDA had rolled back payment limits for the trade aid.
“I think there’s a lot of urban congressman that are going to look at this and say, ‘You know what, there was a lot of damage done in my state in this industry or that industry as a result of this trade disruption — none of my guys got a nickel,’” Johnson said, according to Politico.
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said today, “For many, those payments are the single-most critical factor in their ability to stay in farming for a little while longer. But let’s be clear: Those payments do not make them whole, especially with additional challenges from Mother Nature. Many farmers and ranchers cannot withstand continued uncertainty in trade. We must restore and expand markets.”
CoBank said the increased tariffs are falling on U.S. farmers, not importers.
Trump said that his ethanol policies will be “great for all,” but industry leaders remained skeptical.