In this file:
· Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point.
… “This is real,” said Jeff Witte, president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and New Mexico’s agriculture secretary. “You had farmers who were in the process of closing a loan or getting an operating loan. Now there’s nobody there to service those”…
· Trump Scores Big with Agriculture
… General polls peg President Trump’s approval rating in the low forties, but the latest Farm Journal Pulse on the president’s approval far surpasses a majority, reaching up to a 76% approval rating based on nearly 1,200 responses. Only 21% said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of his job as president. Three percent were not sure…
Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point.
By Jack Healy and Tyler Pager, The New York Times (NYT)
Jan. 10, 2019
DENVER — In Georgia, a pecan farmer lost out on his chance to buy his first orchard. The local Farm Service Agency office that would have processed his loan application was shut down.
In Wisconsin’s dairy country, a 55-year-old woman sat inside her new dream home, worried she would not be able to pay her mortgage. Her loan had come from an Agriculture Department program for low-income residents in rural areas, but all of the account information she needed to make her first payment was locked away in an empty government office.
And in upstate New York, Pam Moore was feeding hay to her black-and-white cows at a small dairy that tottered on the brink of ruin. She and her husband had run up $350,000 in debt to keep the dairy running after 31 of their cows died of pneumonia, and their last lifeline was an emergency federal farm loan. But the money had been derailed by the government shutdown.
“It has just been one thing after another, after another, after another,” Ms. Moore, 57, said.
Farm country has stood by President Trump, even as farmers have strained under two years of slumping incomes and billions in losses from his trade wars. But as the government shutdown now drags into a third week, some farmers say the loss of crucial loans, payments and other services has pushed them — and their support — to a breaking point.
While many rural conservatives may loathe the idea of Big Government, farmers and the federal government are welded together by dozens of programs and billions of dollars in spending.
Now, farmers and farm groups say that federal crop payments have stopped flowing. Farmers cannot get federally backed operating loans to buy seed for their spring planting, or feed for their livestock. They cannot look up new government data about beef prices or soybean yields to make decisions about planting and selling their goods in an ever-changing global market.
“This is real,” said Jeff Witte, president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and New Mexico’s agriculture secretary. “You had farmers who were in the process of closing a loan or getting an operating loan. Now there’s nobody there to service those.”
All week, Joe Schroeder has been listening to shutdown stories pouring into Farm Aid’s hotline. There was the cotton farmer who could not get disaster assistance to help him recover from Hurricane Michael. The woman in her 90s facing foreclosure on her family farm. The dairy farmer trying to make one last attempt to renegotiate her loan with the Farm Service Agency.
“You cannot reach anybody,” Mr. Schroeder said.
Mr. Trump is expected to address a largely friendly audience on Monday at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention. Many farmers, including David Nunnery, 59, of Pike County, Miss., have stayed unflinchingly loyal to Mr. Trump and his demands for $5.7 billion for a border wall, even as the shutdown threatens their livelihood.
“I may lose the farm, but I strongly feel we need some border security,” Mr. Nunnery said.
But Davinder Singh, 41, the Georgia pecan farmer, said the border wall was not worth the price he had already paid — losing out on the chance to finally buy his own orchard instead of working other people’s land.
“Why spend money on the wall?” he said. He just wanted the government to reopen — “as soon as possible.”
The Agriculture Department had tried to blunt the effects by keeping local Farm Service Agency offices open through December. And it extended deadlines for farmers to apply for the administration’s $12 billion bailout for farmers hurt by Mr. Trump’s trade policies.
States like Wisconsin, which lost at least 638 dairy farms last year, are particularly vulnerable...
Trump Scores Big with Agriculture
Jennifer Shike, FarmJournal's Pork
January 7, 2019
To the general public, President Donald Trump ranges from impressive to offensive, but many pork producers believe he is giving agriculture a fair shake.
General polls peg President Trump’s approval rating in the low forties, but the latest Farm Journal Pulse on the president’s approval far surpasses a majority, reaching up to a 76% approval rating based on nearly 1,200 responses. Only 21% said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of his job as president. Three percent were not sure.
The poll is the first in a series to track sentiment on the president’s job performance amongst farmers, ranchers and ag businesses.
The high ag approval numbers follow a flurry of news from Washington that impacts rural America from the signing of the farm bill to trade talks.
“U.S. pig farmers recognize that the Trump administration is holding firm to a campaign and presidential promise to renegotiate many long-standing unfair trade practices,” says Gregg Hora, pig farmer and president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “However, we as farmers and farm organizations encourage a quick resolve to the U.S. trade disputes in order to regain stability and to increase future exports.”
A recent PORK poll shows that trade tops the list of the biggest game changers and concerns of the pork industry in 2019. And, with an expected 2%-3% growth of the U.S. sow herd in 2019, Hora says it’s more critical than ever that Trump’s administration opens U.S. pork export markets and reduces or removes tariffs in Mexico.
“U.S. pork producers continue to be survivors with the U.S. and China trade disruptions with pork export market losses having a negative effect on volume of pork moved and prices received when selling pigs,” Hora says. “Dermot Hays of Iowa State University recently shared that trade losses of $20.00 per head are happening because of tariffs. With 10 million head per month harvested, that equals $200 million a month of potential lost value to rural America.”
Mike Haag, pig farmer and president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, remains optimistic about the positive news coming out of the trade talks.
“Getting final USMCA approved is critical, but I believe it will happen,” Haag says. “We need to rebuild and strengthen what we can with Mexico and Canada. If we can get USMCA approved, that will be a huge win this year.”
Haag also applauded Trump for signing the trade agreement with South Korea that has helped the pork industry increase export sales and helped relieve pressures from tariffs. In addition, market facilitation programs have provided some financial relief for pork producers, lessening the blow of price drops tied to Chinese tariffs.
“President Trump understands that farmers and agricultural supporters in the Midwest are a big part of why he was elected,” Haag says. “I believe he supports us and looks out for us. He realizes we are a big part of why he was elected.”
From an industry perspective...