If it is at all advisable to take any of Trump’s plaything words as vows of real policy, we can count on his threats of trade wars with Mexico and China to crush South Dakota agriculture, says John Tsitrian:
Starting a trade war just as South Dakota farmers are experiencing their lowest prices in a decade is senseless and self-punitive. Fortune magazine, which knows something about how global business gets done, says of Trump’s plan, “it would likely expose the largest U.S. export sectors to steep duties, including aircraft, semiconductors, corn and soybeans (emphasis mine).” Can you imagine a Chinese grain buyer even considering buying heavily tariffed American commodities in a world where everyone else is scrambling to sell their ultra-cheap products unburdened by American duties? I can . . . and I just don’t even want to think about it [John Tsitrian, “Looks Like SD’s Ag Economy Is in for a Tough Year. A Trump Win Will Only Make It Tougher,” The Constant Commoner, 2016.04.17].
According to SDSU Extension, agriculture dropped last year to 7% of South Dakota GDP, down from above 10% in the five preceding years. Farm earnings dropped from 6.9% of state personal income in 2014 to 3.0% in 2015. According to Will Walters of the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management at Mitchell Technical Institute, average profit per farm in 2015 was $38,898, down from $168,361 in 2014 and a five-year average of $162,915.
But how many Presidential candidates do you hear talking about South Dakota agriculture, or any part of American food policy? Farmers, if the primary season stays hot, bring your questions to the Trump/Cruz/Kasich/Clinton/Sanders appearances in our fair state, and demand some straight answers.