Two separate inserts on US news network CNN highlight how a number of farmers who voted for Trump have turned against him following their struggles to make a living in the midst of the ongoing trade war against China.
As part of his campaign as a presidential candidate, Trump promised to get tough on China when it came to trade. He carried through on this promise, with recent moves including his slapping of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese merchandise and making moves against telecom giant Huawei which will effectively prevent the brand from competing in the US market.
But China has fought back with tariffs of its own, and by drastically cutting purchases from US farmers and ranchers – a crucial voting base for Trump in the next US elections in 2020.
There seems to be no resolution to the trade war in site despite ongoing talks.
According to CNN, this is surprising from a president who “brags about his negotiation skills”.
The network interviewed Greg Beaman, an Iowa farmer who appears to agree.
“My uneducated guess is that he better hurry up and start producing a little bit because this negotiation I’m seeing so far has not panned out,” he said.
Describing “a very gloomy picture down on the farm”, CNN talks to other farmers, such as Robert Ewoldt, who has reportedly had his income cut in half after China stopped buying his soybeans.
Ewoldt says he has been forced to take on a second job, driving a truck at night to make ends meet and admitting to regretting voting for Trump.
Another farmer, Larry Angler, said he estimated he would lose between $100,000 and $150,000 this season, adding that while he voted for Trump once he would “never vote for him again”.
The insert notes that on top of the crippling tariffs, US farmers are currently battling natural disasters too, such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fires, which it says has led to a one-month delay in planting by Iowa farmers.
A 19 billion dollar relief package, put forward by Democrats alongside 34 Republicans was, however, rejected by Trump.
Trump has approved relief for farmers in the past, with a 12 billion dollar payout last year that New York Times reported had “aided few“.
Ohio farmer Christopher Gibbs agrees, telling CNN the payouts are “appreciated by farmers for sure, but we’d rather have trade, we’d rather have our markets back”.
He added that while Trump had created the impression that these payouts consisted of tariff dollars from China as well as other countries such as Canada and Mexico, this was “just not true”.
“The president might push out more money to farmers but let’s be clear about where it’s coming from and let’s let the taxpayer know that it’s not coming from China,” he said.
READ MORE: US can’t win Trump’s trade war
Gibbs voted for Trump but said he was now “off the Trump train”, citing a 30% decrease in soybean prices and saying farmers were in a financial “free-fall”.
“The geopolitical turmoil that the president has thrown into the mix over the last year the markets really don’t have anywhere to go so they’re in hiding,” he said.
Trump has expressed his appreciation for US farmers and said his administration would look after them.
“We love our farmers, we take care of our farmers, our farmers have been incredible, no country can get in the way of our farmers, our farmers are great patriots and they’ve done a fantastic job, so our farmers are going to be very well taken care of,” he has said.
Gibbs, however, doesn’t buy it. “To me, that’s just a design to make me continue to be quiet” as farmers continue to bear the brunt of the trade war, he said.
He said Trump and his administration had tried to create the impression that “speaking out against the trade war” was unpatriotic.
However, he said he was “certainly not going to have my patriotism questioned”, noting that at the end of the day his main responsibility was to look after his family.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)
Powerful @KateBolduan interview with farmer Christopher Gibbs, from his farm in Maplewood, Ohio. He voted for Trump and says he's hurting now due to the trade war. "We're in a free-fall out here." pic.twitter.com/nKVAGr9imp
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 15, 2019
“This is survival at this point.”
American farmers are running out of patience with President Trump's trade war with China, and some tell @martinsavidge they regret voting for the President. https://t.co/sjjXDZY3El pic.twitter.com/FMkNxLPBDm
— CNN (@CNN) May 15, 2019