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Organic Farmers Weather Trump Tariff Storm: Grow Local!

Donald Trump isn’t whacking all farmers with his reckless trade war. One subset of the ag industry hasn’t suffered much under the taxes Trump has levied on Americans buying Chinese goods… and it’s a subset of farmers least compatible with the Trump Administration’s blinkered vision of farming: the organic farmers who rely on local markets!

“We have a little more autonomy,” [Michigan farmer Joel] Layman said of organic farmers. “I’m not reliant upon the world market. I’m relying on my neighbor who’s my customer.”

Layman’s peers in one of the fastest-growing sectors of American agriculture generally agree: While President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has dominated conversation among conventional farmers, organic farmers have had the luxury of focusing on other things.

“In terms of what you hear about from the broader community, this hasn’t been it,” said Patty Lovera, policy director for the Organic Farmers Association [April Simpson, “Why Many Organic Farmers ‘Didn’t Notice the Trade War’,” Pew Charitable Trusts: Stateline via West Central Tribune, 2020.02.10].

Grow local, eat local, avoid trade wars—now that’s a reasonable and sustainable economic model. Why doesn’t Kristi Noem get aggressive about organic farming?


  1. mike from iowa 2020-02-11 08:48

    ALEC at the Oklahoma 55th Legislature (2014)
    As a brief reminder, the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, is an organization sponsored by corporations.
    ALEC provides model bills, approved by the corporate sponsors, to primarily state legislators for enactment at home.
    The bills advocate for benefits to some of the corporations and are usually deceptive in language. Oklahoma Republican
    legislators have been very active in ALEC and many bills have been enacted here in the past. The known members from
    Oklahoma are all Republicans and total more than most other states.
    ALEC has employed preemption in a number of the model bills for states to block actions of counties and municipalities.
    Oklahoma passed in 2014 the preemption of counties and municipalities from setting minimum wages. In 2015,
    Oklahoma preempted counties and municipalities from regulating oil explorations in their boundaries. Sen. Brecheen
    introduced a bill advocating for the preemption of any action by counties and municipalities that exceeded what the
    state had set for the state. This was likely his personal extension of the ALEC preemption idea.
    The Right to Farm Act (HJR1012) is also a preemption bill but in this case the preemption would block the state
    legislature from regulating farm practices. The ALEC model bill did not originally call for a constitutional change and this
    version was enacted in Oregon. A later attempt to reverse the preemption to allow protection of organic farmers from
    contamination of their crops with transgenic crops failed. Never the less, the model bill then became one that called for
    the preemption to be less reversible as a constitutional amendment; as in HJR1012, which resulted in SQ777. The
    wording of this question seems so innocuous, and who would be against farming? Ask one of those organic farmers in Oregon.

    ALEC has had its beady eyes on organic farming for a number of years.

  2. Donald Pay 2020-02-11 08:55

    I prefer local products, too, but I wouldn’t discount that organic commodities have a place in the world market. My daughter worked at the US. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing before the 2008 Olympics. Chinese food vendors were looking for US suppliers of organic wheat to provide the healthiest foods to the athletes. So, she was able to provide information so that connections could be made. The growth in organic products in China has been explosive since the Olympics, and China is now the 4th largest consumer of organic products.

  3. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 10:14

    Grow Local, Eat Local, and don’t overcook your hamburgers. Carbon Causes Cancer!!

  4. Clyde 2020-02-11 11:18

    Nice info Mike…..more details on just who ALEC is would be nice.

    I’ve read a little about them in the past….anything they can do to help themselves.

  5. John 2020-02-11 12:30

    Follow the money Mike & Clyde . . . likely the ALEC anti-democratic nonsense if brought to us by the big ag corporations & input suppliers . . . Monsanto, Deer (fighting right to repair), etc., et. al.

  6. mike from iowa 2020-02-11 12:36

    John, the wingnut party is a wholly owned subsidiary of ALEC and the koch bros, minus one.

    Always has been.

  7. Debbo 2020-02-11 20:31

    Good info Mike. So ALEC would like to control organic foods too. No surprise there. I’m sure someone in the SDGOP will be bringing a preemption bill soon. Gotta keep those farmers in line too.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-11 21:06

    I’ll do you two out of three, Porter… and I may just give up #3 entirely. I have better things to do at dinner than argue with the chef. Please pass the tomatoes and cucumbers….

  9. Porter Lansing 2020-02-11 21:42

    As a chef, I and we collectively never tell a guest how to eat, what to eat, or how much to eat. I’m speaking as a friend. Think of any cause of cancer and it’s somehow related to carbon. In restaurants I never cooked on the grill because of my belief that too much grilled food is harmful. Being raised in a German household, you’re not going to change so just moderate, for your families sake.

  10. Debbo 2020-02-14 01:58

    More bad news for farmers:

    “U.S. farm income is forecast to fall by 9% in 2020 due to rising expenses, lower government payments and ultralow prices for corn and soybeans, the nation’s biggest crops.

    That decline will happen even though farm revenue is projected to rise 2.7%, according to data released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “That increase in cash receipts is expected to be eclipsed by the drop in government payments, because we’re looking at a drop in government payments for the sector as a whole of almost $9 billion,” Carrie Litkowski, a USDA economist, said. “On top of that, we’re forecasting an increase in cash expenses.”

    But Economic Oaf “loves farmers” so it’s all good.

  11. jerry 2020-02-14 08:39

    And farmers loves them some Economic Oaf, as long as the dark skins are put in their place, so nothing changes… oh, and toss in some abortion in the salad mix, and you have today’s dazed and confused populace in South Dakota. Squirrel

  12. mike from iowa 2020-03-11 14:49

    Dicamba might just make organic farming a relic of the past.

    From the link….. Dicamba can damage soybeans that aren’t treated to resist it at concentrations in the air as low as one billionth of a gram per cubic meter. One tell-tale sign of damage in soybeans is “cupping” where necrosis on the leaf tip makes the leaf cup up. Peach trees like the ones on Bill and Denise Bader’s peach orchard spread over more than 1,000 acres near Campbell, Mo., are also ultra-sensitive to dicamba.

    That is scary. So is the fog of dicamba written about in lin k.

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