Tuesday, June 26, 2018

South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds Plays Word Games While His State's Farmers Get Bashed

     As if the pummeling that South Dakota's row-crop farmers have been taking from
Why Is This Man Laughing?
Farm Prices Are Plunging, Senator Rounds
President Trump's calamitous trade policy isn't bad enough, our state's junior senator, Republican Mike Rounds, makes the future of this debacle look even murkier with his namby-pamby reaction to the catastrophes that are the corn and soybean markets. 
Rounds was on Bloomberg Television last week splitting rhetorical hairs over whether the trade tensions started by Trump are a "war" or a "dispute."  Rounds said that "right now it's a dispute," but acknowledged that "it's impacting our markets."  Despite the negative impact, though, Rounds went on to say that "we'll allow the administration the time to put together their plan."  Could he have made an utterance that is more feeble, more naively presumptive?
     Why feeble?  Because our state's soybean crop is in the ground and maturing into a market that this week that has traded in the $8 per bushel range (Chicago prices), which is where soybeans were priced when I was brokering and trading commodity markets during the 1990s.  The corn trade is in much the same shape.  Rounds understands that time is of the essence when it comes to raising and marketing crops but is content to wait and see where the tariff imbroglio takes us.  How tough is it for our trade-dependent soybean industry?  It's brutal.  Soybean prices have come down by $2 per bushel since last Spring and a good $3 per bushel since 2016, when Trump was elected.  Given the 250 million bushels of soybeans that South Dakota's farmers produce every year, current price levels will see the disappearance of more than a half billion dollars from South Dakota's economy.  Meantime, Senator Rounds expects us to wait for the  Trump administration to put together a "plan."
     And that gets us to the "presumptive" part of Rounds' politically measured reaction to the collapse in the soybean market.  Our junior senator's attempt at acknowledging the damage being done to South Dakota's farmers without overtly annoying President Trump actually assumes that Trump has a "plan" to move this game of tariff-chicken forward. That's absurd on the face of it.  Last Monday's news that because of new tariffs Harley-Davidson is moving a substantial amount of its production overseas got a surprised reaction from the White House.  Trump apparently doesn't get that this trade war of his actually impacts American manufacturers in ways that are unforeseen and unintended.  The president was caught off guard by his make-it-up-as-you-go-along "policy," which doesn't look like much of the "plan" that Senator Rounds patiently awaits.
     As to our senior senator, Republican John Thune, there hasn't been much from his office about the collapse in corn and soybean prices.  He did, however, post an op-ed last week with  a homily about the nobility of farming.  Lovely as the epistle was, Thune was essentially replacing a hard-headed examination of the pricing crisis with a sentimental wave of condescension.  Both Thune and Rounds are coming up short in their responsibilities to be powerful voices for South Dakota's interests in Washington.  As we so often heard from Pierre during the past few years when state tax receipts were hurt by low crop prices, South Dakota's economy is too dependent on our ag sector to let a commodity price crisis go unaddressed.

1 comment:

  1. What do the Muslim ban, healthcare reform/Obamacare destruction, tax reform, Puerto response and tariffs have in common? No planning. 2 hours with Fox and Friends, a Big Mac then policy is made and the people entrusted with carrying it out informed by tweet. Trump campaigned on tariffs, has been in office for almost 2 years and still no plan or inkling of the consequences. The President then and now can't answer a specific question about a whole variety of subjects, tariffs being just one. Easy, terrific, beautiful, wonderful and historic are the answers to hard questions. The "gut" makes policy. "If it fails, I'll find someone to blame", isn't planning.

    A President with no desire to learn, who beats any opposing ideas down with the power of a dictator. It's no wonder that Thune, Rounds and Noem keep their heads down. Trump controls a secret police and they attend every rally.