Farm Bankruptcies in the Midwest Have Jumped 45 Percent Since Trump Started His Trade War With China
August 15th 2019
By Dan Desai Martin
As Trump digs in his heels on his ongoing trade war with China, farm bankruptcies continue to pile up, according to data compiled by the Farm Bureau and Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action).
Farm bankruptcies across the country have increased 13% from June 2018 to June 2019, according to the Farm Bureau. Those dates roughly correspond with Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, which began in March 2018 when Trump announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The two countries have escalated the trade war since then, with China repeatedly targeting U.S. farm products in retaliation for Trump’s increasing tariffs. In the most recent escalation, Trump threatened an additional 10% tariff on Chinese goods starting Sept. 1, and China responded by refusing to purchase any U.S. agricultural products.
At a 2016 campaign stop in Iowa, Trump vowed he would “negotiate trade deals to help our farmers, help them export their goods, and make money doing it.”
“We’re going to grow the farms,” he added.
But once Trump got into office, his policies led to fewer farm exports, less money for farmers, and an increase in farm bankruptcies.
Looking back at Trump’s entire tenure in office, CAP Action shows an especially disturbing trend for farmers in the midwest.
Since Trump walked into the White House, farm bankruptcies in the midwest have increased by 45%. The group looked at data from 2017 through June 2019 in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Trump’s trade war with China “is a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by,” Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, said last week. Farmers “stand to lose all of what was a $9.1 billion market in 2018, which was down sharply from the $19.5 billion U.S. farmers exported to China in 2017.”
The Trump administration has set aside billions to bail out farmers for the impact of its own trade policies, but the handouts don’t necessarily make up for the loss in revenue.
“Trump is ruining our markets,” Bob Kuylen, a North Dakota farmer, told CNBC in early August. “No one is buying our product no more, and we have no markets no more.” On his farm, Kuylen lost $70 per acre this year, and the government bailout only pays him $15 per acre.
As income dwindles and bankruptcies spike, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is mocking farmers for complaining about their struggles.
“What do you call two farmers in a basement?” Perdue asked a group of Minnesota farmers earlier this month.
“A whine cellar,” Perdue said, leading to a smattering of boos from the crowd.
Farm bankruptcies are increasing, but their pain is nothing more than a punch line to the Trump administration.
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