Iowa farmers favor Trump, despite potential trade war talks

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By Carina

In Iowa, a critical agricultural state, Republican farmers are rallying behind former U.S. President Donald Trump, drawn by the historic financial support his administration provided to the farming sector. 

This support remains a strong point for Trump despite concerns about trade wars potentially impacting U.S. agricultural exports. 

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Record farm aid under Trump administration

As the Iowa caucuses approach, a Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates that Trump is the preferred candidate for 49% of Republicans, positioning him firmly against Democratic President Joe Biden for the November election.

At a recent rally in Clinton, Iowa, Trump highlighted the substantial federal aid, totaling $28 billion, given to farmers during his tenure. 

This was a response to reduced farm exports resulting from trade conflicts with China, Mexico, and Canada. 

Under Trump, farmers received approximately $217 billion in various payments, marking a record high since 1933. 

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Iowa farmers support Trump’s trade stance despite economic hurdles

Despite these figures, the American farm economy faces high costs and falling commodity prices, leading to a 20% drop in net farm incomes in 2023.

Trump’s potential re-election could herald more trade conflicts, including a proposed universal baseline tariff on most imported goods. 

However, Iowa farmers interviewed by Reuters supported Trump’s tough stance on trade, valuing his efforts to correct what they see as historically lopsided deals. 

State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Trump campaign advisor, reflected this sentiment, acknowledging the necessity of Trump’s trade war.

Farmer support for Trump amidst trade concerns

A survey by Agri-Pulse showed 39% of 605 farmers favoring Trump over other candidates, with Ron DeSantis and Joe Biden trailing behind. 

Derek Wulf, a cattle rancher and state legislator from Hudson, Iowa, praised Trump for advocating for agriculture, accepting the hardships from trade wars as necessary. 

However, the trade conflicts have had significant impacts, with grain exports lagging and corn futures witnessing the largest yearly drop in a decade.

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Impact of trade wars on farm income and government aid

The start of Trump’s trade wars in 2018 saw a sharp decline in farm income, particularly affecting soybean exports to China. 

In response, the Trump administration distributed about $23 billion to farmers in 2018 and 2019. Iowa received over $2.4 billion, averaging $42,477 per farm. 

Additional federal funding was used to purchase commodities for emergency food programs, compensating farmers more than the losses incurred due to price impacts.

Mixed reactions among farmers towards Trump’s trade policies 

While Trump’s approach has benefited many, it also has its detractors. 

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Some farmers, like Lance Lillibridge of Vinton, Iowa, and former president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, are exploring other candidates due to concerns over continued trade instability. 

Lillibridge, who supports DeSantis, highlighted a preference among farmers for market-driven income over government checks.

Trump’s farmer support key in election strategy

As the political landscape heats up with the approaching Iowa caucuses, Trump’s support among farmers remains a critical factor in his campaign strategy. 

His historic financial aid to the sector continues to garner appreciation, even as some express apprehensions about the implications of ongoing and future trade policies. 

This dynamic reflects the complex interplay of economic and political considerations shaping farmer preferences in the 2024 election cycle.

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