Trump on track to win farmers' votes despite trade war, pandemic challenges

By Sumner Park FOXBusiness

Even as the pandemic adds more pressure to farmers already distressed from trade war challenges, Trump’s efforts to stand up to China have reinforced the voice of the agricultural industry.

Many farmers are throwing their support to President Trump — despite being squeezed by the trade war and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Three-quarters of U.S. farmers say they will vote for Trump even in the backdrop of depleted commodity prices and rising farm bankruptcies, a recent Farm Futures poll reveals.

This stamp of approval has ticked up from 60% since polling the same question in 2018 after the onset of the China trade war, Farm Futures, the farm business magazine that serves the nation’s largest farmers and agricultural producers, found.

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The recurring support underscores the most pressing matter for farmers: ensuring that their voices are being heard by Washington.

“The concern over time for farmers is that they’re not necessarily being heard, and there’s not someone there fighting the larger war for them,” Brian Philpot, CEO of AgAmerica, told FOX Business. “In farming it comes down to who’s going to fight for them and who’s going to fight the wars as opposed to just saying they’re going to pick off little battles. That resonated four years ago with Trump, and a lot of it still does.”

In 2016, Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” and roll back regulations garnered 62% of the agricultural vote. Since Trump came into office, farm revenue has increased year-over-year.

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Political power has also moved further away from rural areas, which makes up less than 20% of the population. The farming population continues to dwindle as a result of foreign companies that move in and consolidate the sector, a situation that has only been accelerated by the pandemic, according to Philpot.

“We’re seeing more transactions and purchases, with more farms being sold and purchased by other groups,” Philpot said. “COVID has accelerated the winners and losers, the haves and have nots. Farms that were on the edge are being pushed to be sold, and there are larger operators out there that are using it as an opportunity to go out and increase their operations.”

While the bigger farms continue to monopolize, the smaller ones are getting more numerous, leaving the mid-sized farms to be pinched.

Even as the pandemic adds more pressure to farmers already distressed from trade war challenges, Trump’s efforts to stand up to China have reinforced the voice of the agricultural industry.

AGRICULTURE SONNY PERDUE: PRESIDENT TRUMP IS FIGHTING FOR OUR FARMERS, RANCHERS AND RURAL AMERICA

“There had to be a seismic shift to the relationship with China,” U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., told Fox Business’s Charles Payne. “We’ve had presidents in the past talk about it, but none of them ever did anything about it. Trump was bold enough to actually do it, and I think farmers appreciated that.”

In addition to pushing back against China’s unfair trade practices in aim to protect America’s economic interests, the historic Phase One Agreement has led to a record pace of Chinese purchases and boosted agricultural commodity prices, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

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