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Trump To Visit Dubuque Thursday, As Farmers Grapple With Retaliatory Tariffs

Clay Masters
President Trump is visiting Dubuque Thursday to talk workforce development. The trip comes as the state's farmers are grappling with international retaliation from the president's trade policies.

President Donald Trump is slated to visit Dubuque Thursday to host a roundtable discussion on workforce development. But the trip comes as the state is grappling with the backlash from the president's own trade policies, and news of a federal plan to bail out farmers feeling the impact.

Trump is scheduled to visit Northeast Iowa Community College’s Peosta campus, just outside Dubuque, in his second visit to the state as president. Trump will tour the school's advanced manufacturing lab before holding a panel discussion including Governor Kim Reynolds, Congressman Rod Blum, area business leaders, community college students and administrators at the school.

Iowa's unemployment rate continues to tick down, coming in at 2.5% according to June data. Yet some employers in the state are reporting difficulties attracting and retaining qualified workers.

But Thursday's conversation likely won’t be limited to workforce development. 

The visit comes days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers affected by Trump’s trade policies. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue charcterized the program as a "short-term solution" for farmers facing retaliatory tariffs, aimed at buying the Trump Administration time to secure long-term trade deals.

The program will fund emergency payments to farmers, government purchases of commodities to be re-distributed to low-income residents, and the establishment of new trading relationships with other international partners.

The bailout package is spurred by retaliation from the the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China after the president announced tariffs on billions of dollars worth of products from the country's major trading partners.

Iowa's corn, soybean, pork and dairy producers have said the retaliatory tariffs against American goods are hitting them hard, cutting into their marketshare and increasing their operating costs. 

Iowa political leaders have said the program may help farmers in the short-term, but it's no substitute for a robust global market. State Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said many Iowa farmers don't want to rely on government aid.

"What we need is certainty when it comes to our trade relationships. We continue to urge the administration for the swift resolution of our trade negotiations with China and our NAFTA trading partners, as well as pursuing new trade agreements," Naig said in a written statement. "As I travel the state I continue to hear Iowa farmers want more trade, not aid."

Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to counter some of the backlash from producers and farm state lawmakers, urging detractors to "be cool."

"Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what can they be thinking? Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off?" Trump tweeted. "No weakness!"

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter