Earlier this month, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue proved himself tone deaf at a “listening session” where he was hearing complaints from Minnesota farmers whose existence is threatened by the Trump Trade War.
As Mary Papenfuss of Huffington Post reported, Perdue decided to lighten the mood with some humor: “’What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.’
“As he pounded the table in mirth, some of the thousands of farmers at the event laughed nervously — which was followed by boos.”
The reaction from farmers was predictable: “’It was definitely not an appropriate thing to say,’ Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish told HuffPost. ‘It was very insensitive. It took everyone by surprise. He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.’”
The HuffPost story continued, “Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), who attended Farmfest, was taken aback by Perdue’s characterization of farmers as whiners.
“’I’m sitting down with farmers across my district and I know for a fact that they are not whining….They’re stressed and they’re scared. Family farmers are experiencing the real consequences of an escalating trade war and rapidly disappearing markets.’”
More to the point was a tweet directed to the president and circulating last week from a Lexington, Nebraska, farmer, as reported by KNOP TV in North Platte.
In a detailed outline of Trump farm failures, Don Batie’s fourth suggestion was for Trump to maybe let his Ag secretary know, “that farmers are not in a joking mood when facing financial ruin because of YOUR government’s action. Most farm operators (actual farmers, not landowners) are, or will be, having difficult discussions with their banks.”
Christopher R. Martin, pointed out in an April issue of People’s World that, “Trump’s misguided tariff wars and scuttling of NAFTA have exacerbated crop prices that were already slumping, especially corn, soybeans, and wheat. This year, farm loan delinquencies have hit a nine-year high.”
Jason Easley of Politicus USA wrote in June, “Trump’s trade war has become a president-made disaster for red states as Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said South Dakota had lost $500 million
These dire conditions were before Trump’s pre-G7 outburst ratcheted up the trade war with China – the status of which varies according to scary inconsistencies. (Some suggest Trump’s trying to crash the economy to make the Fed lower interest rates so that he can pay less on his own loans.)
Batie’s tweet from the Heartland takes on even more urgency:
“1. Fix the trade issue with China today! Not soon, TODAY!
“2. Rejoin the (Trans Pacific Partnership), now the (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). While I know you do not like multilateral trade agreements, they are better than no trade agreements.
“3. Tell the oil industry to take a hike and stop issuing (Renewable Fuel Standard) waivers. And tell EPA to reassign the waivers already granted to other refiners, like the law says to do. In other words, FOLLOW THE LAW!” (What a concept for our scofflaw prexy!)
This refers to waivers Trump granted to refineries in order to cripple the bio-fuel industry in favor of his fossil fuel favorites.
Batie’s fourth suggestion referred to that comedian (or just plain joke) Sonny Perdue. Number Five tried to inform the uneducable Donald Trump, “All the farmers left today are shrewd small independent businessmen and businesswomen. Treat us that way, don’t pander to us. All we ask is an even playing field. Don’t tell us one thing and do another. Listen to us, not the folks inside the beltway.”
Midwestern Republicans have yet to stand up for their constituents, some of whom are reaching the end of their patience.
Last week Reuters reported, “The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday it had pulled all staff from an annual crop tour after an employee was threatened, and three sources said the threat came over the phone from an angry farmer.
“Farmers have complained this month that a government crop report did not reflect damage from historic flooding this spring. They are also frustrated over unsold crops due to the trade war with China, falling farm income and tighter credit conditions.”
I understand the frustration. Someone lies to you to get your vote and then sets about destroying your livelihood. But, being a Democrat, I neither condone nor incite violence. That is another trait of our lying Republican president.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)