POLITICS
07/22/2018 10:57 pm ET

Trump Heads To Iowa This Week As Farmers Struggle With Tariff Fallout

He hopes to ease concerns while boosting a local congressman in the middle of a challenging re-election fight.

President Donald Trump is flying to Iowa this week in a bid to calm frantic farmers scrambling with the devastating financial fallout of his trade war with China and other countries, the Des Moines Register reported.

The planned visit to Dubuque Thursday comes two weeks after Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the same state, where he also tried to soothe farmers. 

“When it comes to agriculture, I just want to assure all my friends here in Iowa and all across the region: Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re always going to stand with American farmers,” Pence said during a tour of aviation and military contractor Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The price of American soybeans has already dropped some 20 percent since Trump levied import tariffs on steel and aluminum, triggering retaliatory penalties from China on soybeans, pork and other crops, the newspaper noted. China was the largest buyer in the world of U.S. soybean exports, but now purchases have all but vanished, the head of a major international soybean processor told Bloomberg earlier this year.

“Whatever they’re buying is non-US,” Soren Schroder, CEO of oilseed processor Bunge, said. “They’re buying beans in Canada ... mostly Brazil, but very deliberately not buying anything from the U.S.

China is even considering canceling 1.2 million tons of soybeans from the U.S. that it had committed to buy earlier this year, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Trump administration has signaled that it’s prepared to turn to the public Commodity Credit Corporation and its $30 billion to bail out farmers grappling with the trade war the president launched.

Both Cedar Rapids and Dubuque are in the state’s 1st Congressional District, where incumbent GOP Rep. Rod Blum is in the middle of a challenging re-election fight against Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer. Blum is hosting Trump on his trip this week, the congressman announced on Twitter.

Trump won Iowa by over 9 percent of voters, and the farm vote will be critical to Trump the next time around. State GOP leaders believe the farmers still stand behind the president and a push for more lucrative trade deals — for now. That could quickly fade as commodity prices continue to fall and soybeans sit unsold in grain elevators.

“People are patient — to a point. But we’re running out of time,” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig told The Des Moines Register earlier this week.

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