Just like brutal weather is tough on us, the last four years of Donald Trump have been brutal for Iowa’s family farms, and we know why: Donald Trump’s failed trade and economic policies.
While he talks a good game on pointing out the failed trade policies of the past, he’s offered little by way of a cure.
Take China. The China shock is real and has hurt our rural communities. But the "solution” Trump offered has been anything but, starting a trade war that closed off export markets — causing over a billion dollars of damage to Iowa’s economy. The aid he offered to compensate for these damages has not covered the losses, and similar to his irresponsible tax cuts, the top 10 percent of farms have two-thirds of the aid.
In his decisions on trade, Trump placed the interests of Wall Street and himself above farmers and rural main streets. Big banks got their wins. But nothing for workers or national competitiveness, and we, America’s family farmers paid the price.
Trump has also stood by while Chinese mega-companies buy up American businesses like Syngenta — adding to an already dire concentration problem that’s squeezing family farms. He has refused to take up demands from farmers to add the USDA to the committee that reviews acquisitions that are sensitive to our national security. Instead, he’s used the Defense Production Act to force meatpackers to stay open, furthering the spread of COVID to more than 3,600 Iowa workers.
And despite Trump’s bragging about the US-Mexico Canada Trade Agreement, the successor to the flawed North American Free Trade Agreement, it was Congressional Democrats that removed his giveaways to Big Pharma that would have raised prescription drug prices. Farmers demanded that the new deal meaningfully address import dumping and reinstate mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling, neither of which Trump delivered on.
The outcomes of these failed strategies are clear. In 2019, the farmer’s share of the food dollar fell to an all-time low. During Trump’s time in office, Iowa lost 1,700 farms. And other sectors are also suffering. Under Trump, nearly 450 Siemens turbine workers in Fort Madison were laid off due to increased green energy imports, while over 200 aluminum workers in Bettendorf lost their job due to Chinese imports.
We need to build Iowa’s farmers back better. Joe Biden is the candidate to do that.
Instead of Trump’s erratic trade wars to serve Wall Street, Biden will execute a comprehensive trade strategy that doesn’t pit American farmers against American workers, but rather lifts us all up. He will overhaul Buy American rules, so that tax dollars support farmers and workers at home. He will not pursue unfair trade deals but will make sure that family farmers, workers, and conservationists are at the negotiating table from Day One.
Beyond trade, he will provide low-cost financing so that farmers can adopt the most efficient, sustainable technologies and lead on conservation practices that make sense for their businesses and the environment. He will strengthen anti-trust enforcement so that seed companies, meat processors, and other would-be monopolists get their foot off family farmers’ necks. He will put ethanol and other bio-based fuels at the center of his historic $2 trillion investment to fight climate change. And he’ll enact other policies that improve the quality of life for family farms, like investing $20 billion in rural broadband and expanding access to rural health care centers.
Whether you’re voting in person or through the mail, before Election Day or on, the choice is clear. Only Joe Biden will deliver on bold reforms that meet the critical moment we face.