In this file:


·         Should Democrats bother reaching out to rural America?

·         Farmer Sentiment Darkens as China Hopes Fade



Should Democrats bother reaching out to rural America?


By Holly Bailey, The Washington Post 

May 8, 2019


DES MOINES — J.D. Scholten has gotten phone calls from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. He’s campaigned with Sen. Cory Booker. He held a town hall with entrepreneur Andrew Yang and toured an ethanol plant with Sen. Amy Klobuchar.


The presidential candidates are eager to meet with Scholten, hoping he holds the key to a secret that increasingly bedevils Democrats: how to win rural voters, who seem to be firmly in President Trump’s camp. Scholten, a former minor-league baseball star, challenged GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa last year, driving around in a beat-up motor home. He lost, but just barely, in a heavily conservative rural area.


Scholten tells Democrats the party is too focused on upscale urban voters. “We’re becoming the Whole Foods party, when we need to figure out how to win in Dollar General districts like mine,” Scholten said. “You don’t have to win, but you should be able to compete.”


That difficult message comes as Democrats face an increasingly clear crossroads: Do they spend time and resources pursuing rural voters, who are often socially and culturally at odds with the party’s increasingly liberal direction? Or do they double down on cities and suburbs, hoping to drive up support among the multiethnic, younger, more highly educated voters that many see as the party’s future?


For Democrats still traumatized by Trump’s victory, it’s a vexing question. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton struggled on both counts: She suffered from lackluster turnout in the cities but also lost rural voters to Trump by a 3-to-1 margin.


Democrats like former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack say the party can’t simply cede small-town voters again. “If we are losing rural counties as we have in the past . . . I don’t give a damn how much you run up the vote in the inner cities and in the suburbs, we’ll be right back where we were in 2016,” he said.


But for a big faction of the party, that’s crazy. Rather than tying themselves in knots chasing a deeply conservative electorate that loves guns, opposes abortion and is firmly in the GOP camp, Democrats need to focus on driving up enthusiasm among people who share their values, this group says.


Aimee Allison, president and founder of She the People, which aims to boost turnout among women of color, said Clinton did not invest enough in wooing black voters. That led to low turnout in places like Detroit and ultimately the narrow loss of Michigan and other critical states.


“Instead of chasing and obsessing over voters who are not obsessing over us — instead of trying to convert people who have already demonstrated they are with Trump and have given no visible indication they are leaving him — what if we invested in voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats?” Allison said. “Women of color vote 3-to-1 for Democrats, compared to white guys. It doesn’t make sense to use a strategy we know loses elections.”


For now, many of the Democrats are at least trying to connect with smaller communities. During a swing through Iowa last weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held intimate town hall meetings in remote areas and delivered a speech on agriculture policy in Osage, a city of about 3,600.


Sanders pledged to “impose an immediate moratorium on agribusiness mergers” as president and to direct more federal subsidies to family farmers.


“Those of us who come from rural America have nothing to be ashamed about, and the time is long overdue for us to stand up and fight for our way of life,” said Sanders, drawing instant applause from the crowd. Vermont is a rural state, but Sanders is from Brooklyn and rose to prominence as mayor of Burlington.


Other candidates are also visiting. Booker and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took their campaigns through rural Iowa in recent weeks, visiting strongly Republican counties on the western side of the state where Trump won by 15 points or more in 2016.


O’Rourke, in his own stop in rural Iowa, noted that there was a time when farming communities were often Democratic. “Democrats used to be the party for rural America,” he told voters. “The little gal, the little guy, the farmer, the rancher in Texas, the producer, those who feed and clothe not just this community but so much of the rest of the world.”


If Democrats have a shot with any country voters, they might be people like Spenser Jorgensen, 32, who farms about 3,500 acres with his father and brother west of Adair, Iowa. The area has taken a hit from Trump’s trade battles, and it took a subsidy from the administration to keep Jorgensen’s family from the financial brink.


A registered Republican who also works as a farm loan officer at a local bank, Jorgensen is looking around at other candidates, even across the aisle, for someone who might do better for farmers and the towns they live in...


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Farmer Sentiment Darkens as China Hopes Fade


By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming - 5/8/2019


A Purdue University gauge of farmer confidence plunged by 18 points, its largest drop since the start of the Sino-U.S. trade war, amid rising doubts that a resolution is near, said two economists who oversee the Ag Economy Barometer on Tuesday. The monthly poll of crop and livestock producers was conducted well before the Trump administration decision for sharply higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese-made imports, effective Friday.


“Producers are less optimistic that the trade dispute with China will be resolved by July 1 than they were a month earlier but remain optimistic that it will ultimately be resolved with terms favorable to U.S. agriculture,” wrote economists James Mintert and Michael Langemeier. Some 28% of respondents said a settlement was likely by midsummer, compared with 45% in the previous month.


The “ongoing uncertainty” of U.S.-China trade relations “is unacceptable to U.S. farmers,” said president Davie Stephens of the American Soybean Association on Tuesday. “With depressed prices and unsold stocks forecast to double before the 2019 harvest begins in September, we need the China market reopened to U.S. soybean exports within weeks – not months or longer.” The soybean group urged the White House to reach an agreement that will remove China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans. In the past, China bought 1 of 3 bushels of U.S. soybeans grown.


A Chinese delegation is expected in Washington for ministerial-level meetings this week. President Trump announced over the weekend that tariffs would rise to 25% on $200 worth of Chinese products that now face duties of 10%. U.S. officials said China wanted to reopen discussions on topics that supposedly were decided.


The Purdue barometer has been on the decline since early this year...


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