Yesterday I noted that the dubious Noem poll suggests anti-Trumpers aligning with Marty Jackley. That effect could swell if Trump keeps costing South Dakota farmers real money, as South Dakota Soybean Association president Jerry Schmitz calculates:
Schmitz explains that South Dakota’s more than 11,000 soybean growers feel the pain of this market decline. “That 40 cent drop results in an overnight income loss of $15,000 to $20,000 to the average South Dakota soybean farmer at a time when farm income has already dropped to 50 percent of what it was five years ago” [South Dakota Soybean Association, press release, 2018.04.04].
And Schmitz isn’t buying the “Don’t Blame Trump, Blame China” ploy:
He adds, that there is still time to reverse the damage. The Trump Administration can still deliver for farmers by withdrawing the tariffs that caused this retaliation. “China has said that its 25 percent tariff will only go into effect based on the course of action the administration takes,” Schmitz said [SDSA, 2018.04.04].
Schmitz tells the Capital Journal that every third South Dakota bean goes to China. He says a Trump trade war could be as hard on South Dakota agriculture as the 1980 grain embargo against the Soviet Union:
Using food as a weapon in international affairs went down as a black mark in most people’s books on Carter, who lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan, for that and other reasons.
Grain prices to American farmers fell heavily and it changed the world market for decades, Schmitz said.
“It was the same situation,” he said. “The farm economy was going down. It started the same way: just rhetoric that went back and forth.”
But it got to the point where neither side would back down, he said.
It resulted in effects felt still today, he said.
Needing a new source of livestock feed and human food, the Soviet Union turned to Asia and South America and its huge demand sparked the start of farming on a massive modern scale in Brazil and Argentina, Schmitz said.
Still today, Brazil’s soybean production is a main rival for U.S. farmers, he said. “Ever since they have been competitors” [Stephen Lee, “South Dakota Soybean Farmer Urges President to Keep China Markets Open to American Crops,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2018.04.09].
Farmers aren’t fooled: if they lose buyers due to tariffs, they’ll blame the impulsive egomaniac in the White House. Even if those tariffs don’t kick in before the primary, cautious Republican farmers may look ahead and say that the less their gubernatorial nominee is tainted by association with Trump, the better, and that means picking Marty Jackley over Kristi Noem on June 5.