Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trump Will Make South America Great Again

El Donaldo
He'll Make South America Great Again
     Trump and his aura of inevitability as the GOP presidential nominee should make American farm belt citizens think about his ag policies.  I think he's disdainful about American
agriculture to the point of hostility.  I've already disclosed my contempt for his "Mexican wall" here because I think it would poison our trade relations with Mexico, which buys $350 million a year worth of goods from South Dakota, products that Mexico can just as easily buy from producers in another country.  
     Now that Trump's primary campaign has made him such a strong contender for the nomination, his zeal to "Make America Great Again" needs some examination from our ag industry.  What has surfaced so far doesn't look all that great.  Actually, it looks downright nasty and brutish--and none too short if he makes it to the White House.  Last Summer when Trump was talking to Sean Hannity of Fox News about our trade relationship with Japan he said, "you look at Japan with the boats that come pouring in with cars--you know what we send Japan?  We send them beef.  We send them wheat.  We send them corn." Trump's dismissive tone toward American ag exports didn't go unnoticed by industry participants. The Daily Reporter out of Spencer, Iowa, immediately observed that "Japan is U.S. agriculture's biggest market . . . if Trump's trade policy is implemented, Japan would  look for a new source of beef, wheat and corn.  Brazil, Canada and Argentina will love that opportunity and the EU will be happy to sell Japan more pork."  As far as ag is concerned, Trump's slogan might as well be "Make South America great again."
     It's actually pretty frustrating to watch the Trumpistas lapping up this bellicose rhetoric about trade without realizing that our trade partners won't just sit there and take it.  They're perfectly capable of retaliating in kind and shopping elsewhere for goods that they're buying from Americans.  From our perspective here in the Plains and the Midwest, the retaliation would probably
Paraguayan Farmers
Trump Will Do Them Some Good
(photo from
come in the form of buying ag products from our ever-eager and aggressive competitors.  Similar events occurred way back in the '70s when President Carter embargoed ag sales to the Soviet Union, opening up a giant market that was quickly filled by American competitors.  When I began actively trading and producing grain and livestock a decade later, it was clear that the opening given to foreign competition had permanently altered the international ag trading matrix.  Trade wars are vicious. Rebuilding our ag trade (much of it with Asian customers that Trump's hostility is often directed at) with tariff negotiations has resulted in big gains for South Dakota ag producers.  In 2005, South Dakota exported about $900 million worth of products.  By 2014 that number leaped to$1.6 billion.  And we're just one state among many that ships billions of dollars worth of ag products to Asia.  

     Donald and those Trumpistas of his seem to think that our trading partners and adversaries will just roll over at a snap of his fingers, which is just plain delusional in a world where trade is a multi-dimensional affair.  If this guy is the great negotiator he claims to be, he should be able to talk us into the better trade deals he envisions without threats of open warfare that could set back decades of good results that South Dakota ag producers have gotten from administrations of both parties.
     My next post will be about how Trump's inflexible stand on immigration will crush American farmers if it comes to pass. 


  1. John, you assume Trump even has policy, I wouldn't make that assumption, I don't think he has a clue.

  2. I shutter to think of who he would appoint as Sec. Of Agriculture. He would appoint smart people,because he knows so many. Remember Sec. Earl Butz? A professor out of Cornell? Smart, but got farmers to plant fence row to fence row. Took years to work out of the overproduction. Then GW Bush gave us Sec. Vennamen. Lawyer from Monsanto. Just a GOP cheerleader, got us no place.
    Despite all the rhetoric Ag and the stock market does better with a Dem President. Farmers and Wall streeters tend to be GOP. Why is that, John? Would enjoy your comment.

  3. Trump's only policy is to get "elected President" on his resume, and bloviate to the world. Get ready for a rough, rough, rough ride...