The head of the farmers union in Wisconsin, the second-biggest dairy producing state in the U.S., had some harsh words for President Donald Trump over bailouts paid due to his trade wars, saying they aren’t interested in “government handouts” that amount to “socialism.”
“He is bragging about socialism. That’s what $28 billion really is — it is taxpayers dollars that are coming back to the farmer.”
A CBS “60 Minutes” report on Sunday showed how the trade war and low prices have pushed many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy and losing their land, drawing the ire of Trump in a tweet where he mentioned the $28 billion paid to farmers in bailouts.
.@60Minutes “forgot” to report that we are helping the great farmers of the USA to the tune of 28 Billion Dollars, for the last two years, paid for out of Tariffs paid to the United States by China for targeting the farmer. They devalued their currency, therefore paying the cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2019
Trump’s tweet then in turn drew the ire of Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden, who blasted the president and said farmers don’t want to be rescued by taxpayer-funded bailouts that don’t come close to their overall losses.
“It is absolutely ludicrous,” Von Ruden told Newsweek. “The majority of farmers want to get our income coming in from the marketplace, from the consumers. We don’t want government handouts.”
Von Ruden said the trade wars have particularly hurt small farmers who were already reeling from lower prices, warning it could take two decades for the farmers he represents to recover. He also took issue with Trump’s repeated claim that China is paying the tariffs.
“He is bragging about socialism. That’s what $28 billion really is — it is taxpayers dollars that are coming back to the farmer,” Van Ruden said. “For him to say that he’s helping farmers is really BS too because the amount of money we get back is between 20 and 23% of what we are losing.”
It would be easy to dismiss Von Ruden’s claims as just another Democrat bellyaching about Trump, but a poll conducted in 2016 showed Trump pounded Hillary Clinton 55% to 18% among farmers who had operations of at least 200 acres.
Now those same farmers, according to Von Ruden, are caught in the middle of Trump’s trade wars against China, India and Mexico, trade wars that are mainly meant to help sectors like technology and manufacturing while agriculture takes a beating from retaliatory tariffs.
The Newsweek story also interviewed retired Wisconsin dairy farmer Jim Goodman, who is the president of the National Family Farm Coalition, and he said the subsidies aren’t nearly enough.
“It sounds like a lot of money, but when you divide that among the many farms in the country, it doesn’t come to very much,” Goodman said. “I knew a farmer who got a check for a dollar — that’s laughable at best.”
“In effect, the biggest farmers — who aren’t really farmers but own a lot of land and rent a lot of land and let someone else farm it for them — they are the ones who got the biggest checks out of the deal. Small farmers that rural communities depend on are still struggling and the amount of money, if they got any at all out of that $28 billion, is pretty minimal.”
Editor’s note: The farmers are clearly taking one for the team in regard to the trade war. Do you think they should be more grateful for the bailouts? And since the GOP is campaigning hard against socialism, do you think the bailouts, which are already more than double those paid to automakers during the Great Recession, basically amount to exactly what the party is railing against? Share your thoughts below.