Today in The Capital Times, David Zweifel wrote how President Trump has hurt Wisconsin workers. In a column, he outlineshow President Trump’s economy was not working for farmers even before the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the Trump Administration’s failed trade tariffs and increased farm bankruptcies across the state.
The Capital Times: Plain Talk: Biden-Harris signs line rural Wisconsin roads, for good reason
I have to admit I was surprised by the number of Biden-Harris signs in farm fields and yards when Sandy and I drove through southwest Wisconsin last week in search of fall colors.
Many have obviously gotten the message that Donald Trump’s nearly four years in office hasn’t helped them much.
Thanks to the scattershot tariffs, farm prices are down and more and more family farmers are still declaring bankruptcy because they haven’t been able to bring in enough money to pay the bills.
That rural America and Wisconsin, in particular, might not be in the Trump camp this election year like they were in 2016, must be getting a lot of notice among the the strategists in the Trump campaign. For suddenly, as only incumbents can make happen, the administration is rushing government money to farmers, claiming it shows how much it cares for their welfare with only a couple of weeks to go before Election Day.
It’s not only farmers who are getting some extra taxpayer help. Trump, the New York Times pointed out earlier this month, has promised $200 prescription drug cards to millions of seniors, suddenly approved $13 billion to Puerto Rico, which might help his vote total in Florida, and has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include Trump-signed letters in millions of food boxes that are being distributed to the poor.
Cynics might contend that this really amounts to bribery. We’ll give you this in return for your vote.
Indeed, Trump’s secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, was cited for violating the nation’s ethics laws when he showed up at an official event in North Carolina in September and used it to promote Trump’s reelection. Ostensibly there to promote the availability of food for those who can’t afford it, he announced, “That’s what’s going to continue to happen — four more years — if America gets out and votes for this man, Donald Trump.”
The department’s special counsel ordered Perdue to reimburse the government for the costs associated with his attendance at the event. You’re not supposed to be campaigning on the government’s dime.
Wisconsin farmers might remember that during the first round of payments that the government made to ease the jolt to farm income because of the tariffs, Perdue had directed most of it to the South. Perdue, of course, was formerly a two-term governor of Georgia where he became known for accepting gifts from special interests and famous for his insistence that climate change isn’t real.
He also didn’t go over well with the state’s smaller dairy farmers when he came to visit the World Dairy Expo in October 2019 and pronounced that “in America the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, or any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
Sure enough, as Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin pointed out earlier this year, that first round of tariff-related relief was funneled to large agricultural operations over smaller farms. Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, thought to be the Senate’s richest member and who owns a large farm in her home state, collected $770,000 from the tariff relief package alone.
Baldwin said that despite being hit particularly hard by Trump’s trade wars, Wisconsin has received less in aid, on average than other states.
Officials in other Midwestern states have remarked about the disparity. A Kansas State University research team validated a report that the farm aid was biased toward certain parts of the country and toward certain crops.
The researchers found that payments to cotton farmers, for instance, were 33 times more than the estimated damage cotton growers suffered from the trade tariffs. Wisconsin’s dairy farmers should have been so lucky.
Since Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again entourage took office in January 2017, Wisconsin has lost 2,278 dairy farms — 773 in 2019 alone.
That’s roughly 25% of the state’s family farms. Is there any wonder that Biden-Harris signs are popping up along our rural roads?