Grain, livestock and dairy farmers from around the state expressed support for President Trump’s trade policies at a roundtable discussion in Des Moines sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa.
The president’s tariffs against China and other countries have pushed prices down for some Iowa commodities. But the farmers say they’re optimistic the tariffs will result in fairer trade practices in the future.
Hog farmer Doug Reimer from Guttenberg says his operation has been “hit somewhat.”
“The last seven months of the year have been pretty fair,” Reimer said. “The disaster is coming in the next six months to a year.”
But Reimer said he is cautiously optimistic that tariffs “will work.”
“It’s the right thing to do,” Reimer said. “We’re playing hardball with some hardball people.”
Joining the conversation by telephone from Washington was former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey who serves in the Trump administration as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation in the United States Department of Agriculture.
He told the farmers that countries like China have backed out of trade deals unfairly, and the “drip, drip, drip” of that has eroded our markets.
“While we are still great traders, we have countries that nibble at that and need to be challenged,” Northey said.
The farmers said they don’t like the idea of subsidies, but they will accept the farm aid the Trump administration is offering to producers to offset the lower commodity prices.
Mike Bixler raises sheep and grows corn and soybeans near Clarence in Cedar County. He says the subsidies will help his bottom line when he tries to convince his banker to lend him more money this year.
“I have lost money or broke even farming for the last three years,” Bixler said. “This farm payment will help the farmer buy time to help their lending ability for early pay inputs for the upcoming year.”
“I don't like the idea of handouts but if that's going to keep us afloat then so be it,” said dairy farmer Norman Rozendaal from Monroe. “We have to support our president.”
“Tariffs are not a long-term situation but a bridge to the fair and equal trade that will come,” said Lauren Mosher who produces crops and livestock on her family’s farm near Liscomb. “Trump is doing the heavy lifting.”