Trump's tariff war threatens to erode support of farmers
President Donald Trump’s tariff battle with key buyers of US apples, soybeans and corn threatens the support of some of his biggest backers with some US farmers now seeing their livelihoods in jeopardy.
Farmers overwhelmingly supported Trump in the 2016 election, welcoming how he championed rural economies and vowed to repeal estate taxes that often hit family farms hard.
Now those same farmers are seeing crop prices fall and export markets shrink after Trump’s tariffs triggered a wave of retaliation from buyers of US apples, cheese, potatoes, bourbon and soybeans.
“A lot of people in the ag community were willing to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade.
“The reason you are seeing people increase the pressure now is because the pressure is increasing on them. Now the impact is really starting to hit. It is not something you can just take lightly.”
His group, along with the US Apple Association, will start running television ads on Tuesday attacking Trump’s tariffs in Pennsylvania and Michigan, apple-growing states that could play a role in which party controls Congress after the November elections.
Trump, a Republican, has said farmers will not become a casualty in any trade war, floating ideas like subsidising those hurt by tariffs.
Even before trading partners imposed tariffs, US farmers were facing a tough year. Net farm income was expected to fall 6.7pc to $59.5 billion in 2018, according to the US Agriculture Department.