Last Updated on October 19, 2020 by admin
Awash In Aid Cash, Ohio Valley Farmers Replicate On Trump Guarantees — And Their Ballots
By: Liam Niemeyer | Ohio Valley ReSource
CALLOWAY COUNTY, Ky. (OVR) — Rick Murdock drives previous his neighbors on rural again roads in southwest Calloway County, Kentucky, most days in his pickup truck, the place he’ll cross by some indicators of the season — “Trump 2020” flags and indicators.
Murdock stated he’s by no means been the kind to place up indicators or banners himself supporting a selected candidate — “I’d not wish to offend my brother, or my neighbor” — however he does take into account himself to be a conservative, a Christian. He recalled a previous Election Day when he took his then Eight-year-old daughter with him to the voting sales space to indicate her what the method was like. He voted for former President George W. Bush that yr.
“The curtain got here round us, and he or she was standing there with me. And after I voted for Bush, she stomped her foot,” he stated with fun. “So, my eight-year-old daughter thought I made a nasty alternative that day.”
Currently, it appears, there’s much more foot-stomping when individuals discuss politics, and it’s not simply from children. With weeks earlier than the election, he’s discovering it almost inconceivable to speak along with his western Kentucky neighbors, a lot of them additionally farmers, about politics, in regards to the election, about President Donald Trump. Any try seems like wasted breath to him.
“It’s so polarized proper now that it instantly turns into a nasty dialogue. And so that could be a enormous drawback,” he stated, talking behind a blue masks. “For those who’re a follower of Jesus, you’re taught to like your neighbor, and also you’re taught assist your neighbor. And now neighbors don’t even communicate to one another over this crap.”
Murdock didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, and he’s not planning on voting for him this yr. He lists a number of causes, together with his notion of the president’s ethical compass and the way he’s dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. He is aware of he’s within the minority amongst his neighbors in Calloway County, the place Trump received by 35 proportion factors in 2016.
However these aren’t the one causes Murdock opposes the president. He’s additionally anxious in regards to the greater than $1.5 billion the U.S. Division of Agriculture has despatched to the Ohio Valley over the previous few years to offset commerce battle damages and the pandemic’s financial impression, particularly because the Trump administration accepted billions extra for agriculture months earlier than the election.
“Are we taking cash from the federal government to be politically influenced? Are we taking cash from the federal government as a result of we want it?” Murdock requested. “And naturally, when your representatives and your political occasion are feeding you cash, you’re joyful, and also you need that to proceed. However there’s a consequence of that.”
That consequence, he stated, is the hovering federal deficit, particularly with the onset of trillions of in COVID-19 reduction. Murdock can also be involved in regards to the long-term results of Trump’s commerce battle. He spent a part of his childhood in Brazil and discovered to talk fluent Portuguese, following his dad who helped rural farmers there enhance their yields.
After years of retaliatory tariffs by the Trump administration towards China and different nations, Murdock fears a legacy of Trump’s commerce battle may very well be a everlasting lack of U.S. market share worldwide as China appears to be like to Brazil for commodity provides as a substitute.
Whereas polls point out most Ohio Valley farmers nonetheless help Trump, they’re additionally reflecting on the guarantees he made to agriculture, and a few in the end fear in regards to the lasting impression his insurance policies could have on farming households and their monetary safety.
It was in early August when Tom Folz began to really feel worn out, drained on a regular basis. He isn’t precisely positive how the coronavirus reached his farm with 1000’s of acres of soybeans and corn in a rural a part of Christian County, however quickly his sons and prolonged famly fell sick with the illness.
“Lots of mornings, I’d get up after I had it and assume it was over with, however that afternoon, it might kick me once more and inform me it was nonetheless there,” Folz stated. “Though my signs have been considerably unhealthy, they weren’t extreme. And I’ve heard of people who they have been extreme, they usually’ve needed to go to the hospital and be on the ventilator.”
He feels fortunate that nobody in his household wanted to be hospitalized, in a county the place COVID-19 remains to be spreading quickly by communities. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s COVID Knowledge Tracker reveals that as of October 16 there have been 1,659 instances of COVID-19 in Christian County, which has a inhabitants of about 72,000. That’s 2,296 instances per 100,000 individuals.
Folz stated he by no means needed to put on a masks within the first place, which he figures is a cause why he caught COVID-19. And he doesn’t blame Trump for the way he’s dealt with the pandemic, saying there’s nothing the president may have achieved to cease it.
He additionally appreciates how Trump made an effort to deal with what he calls unfair commerce practices with China, although Folz has felt a vital monetary squeeze from retaliatory tariffs. He additionally agrees with Trump’s anti-abortion stance, and he’s supporting Trump this fall.
In line with latest polls by agriculture and commerce publications, Folz is a component of a giant majority amongst farmers. A DTN/Progressive Farmer ballot from late September of greater than 1,000 individuals residing in rural counties discovered that 50% deliberate to vote for Trump, a 17% lead over Democratic candidate former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Folz rejected the argument that the a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of in federal funds to Ohio Valley agriculture had any political affect. He countered that there have been too few farmers for the votes to matter. Regardless, he stated, he wanted the funds to remain on stable monetary footing.
“Within the downturn we had in markets, there’s not a lot left on the finish of the rainbow, you possibly can say with out authorities cash,” Folz stated. “I hate authorities cash, however I wish to stay and I wish to be worthwhile to the place I can maintain going yr to yr.”
Ben Klick is a northeast Ohio farmer who serves as vice-president of the Ohio and Corn Grower Affiliation, and he agrees the funds have helped some farmers within the nation going through uncontrollable components together with poor climate. However he doesn’t agree with how the funds have been distributed.
“I can clearly see how individuals can be like, ‘yeah, that’s how he’s going to purchase our vote,’” Klick stated. “I don’t agree with [the payments]. And I’m nonetheless going to vote for a man. So, I imply, what’s that inform you?”
Klick stated Trump isn’t the proper individual, however he’s supporting Trump this election partially due to what Klick fears Biden may do to agriculture. He believes Biden is borrowing from the Inexperienced New Deal for facets of his agriculture plan and fears that would harm farming.
“The farming world could be very scared. I’ve quite a lot of buddies that work within the oil and gasoline discipline round right here which can be extraordinarily scared for his or her livelihood,” Klick stated. “I don’t assume you’re gonna have any hassle with small city agricultural base people voting for him by any means.”
Following The Cash
Along with subsidies related to the Farm Invoice and different long-standing agricultural packages, two new packages emerged within the Trump administration particularly to ship cash to farmers to deal with the results of commerce disruption and the market downturn as a result of coronavirus pandemic: the Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Meals Help Program.
Collectively, the 2 packages have pumped a staggering $37.9 billion into farm economies across the nation, in response to USDA information and the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group that has lengthy tracked farm subsidies.
The Ohio Valley has obtained $1,379,148,860 by the Market Facilitation Program for the reason that federal program’s inception in 2018 by June 30, 2020, meant to offset financial damages from the commerce battle’s retaliatory tariffs. The Coronavirus Meals Help Program, to offset financial damages from the pandemic, despatched one other $213,935,751 to recipients in the identical interval. (The Environmental Working Group equipped USDA information obtained by way of the Freedom of Data Act.)
The information present that greater than 60,000 Market Facilitation Program funds went to Ohio in 2018 and 2019 mixed, 25,000 to Kentucky and simply 774 to West Virginia.
In Ohio Valley, Northern Ohio has been the largest beneficiary of the Market Facilitation Program because the state obtained almost $1 billion in funds in 2018 and 2019 mixed. That’s greater than twice the quantity obtained by Kentucky and West Virginia, in response to the evaluation of information supplied by EWG.
Eight Ohio Valley cities in these three states took greater than $10 million in Market Facilitation Program funds in 2018 and 2019, with these cities main the pack: Owensboro, Hopkinsville, and Morganfield in Kentucky; and Higher Sandusky and Circleville in Ohio.
Because the coronavirus pandemic drove a gap in state economies throughout the nation, the agriculture sector additionally bore a number of the brunt, leaving farmers in want of help. General, as of October 13, farmers in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia had obtained a mixed $635 million in COVID-19 reduction funds, after a second part of the Coronavirus Meals Help Program began funds.
Farmers in Kentucky obtained $108.7 million in 15,158 funds by June. Ohio farmers bagged $93.Eight million by 6,512 funds. Farmers in West Virginia obtained about $11 million in 2,123 funds.
Underneath COVID-19 reduction, farmers in Mayfield, Kentucky, obtained greater than $four million and farmers within the Kentucky cities of Columbia, Glasgow, and Scottsville, and Ohio’s Maria Stein obtained greater than $2 million every.
Wanting past this election, some in agriculture fear in regards to the lasting impacts the commerce battle and the massive funds may have on the long run well being of the farm financial system. The USDA lately forecast internet farm earnings this yr to rise above $100 billion for the primary time since 2014. However greater than a 3rd of that earnings was anticipated to come back from federal funds.
Ben Brown is an Assistant Professor of Skilled Follow in agricultural threat administration at Ohio State College, and he believes most farmers are optimistic for the long run with corn costs and soybean costs up from six months in the past, and with yields trying higher than anticipated in Ohio.
However he and his colleagues do have a slight fear over how farmers are utilizing federal funds, contemplating they will disappear with the altering political winds.
“Our hope is that farmers work down debt and use this cash to pay down debt, reasonably than financing their operation,” Brown stated. “Our concern somewhat bit is that farms are utilizing this as working capital, and so then when the federal government funds finish, they haven’t any solution to finance their operation. They continue to be over leveraged.”
Brown stated whereas the overall federal funds are a document quantity for the fashionable period of farming, there have been previous years the place the % of farm earnings coming from authorities sources has been larger than now.
But Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan calls the funds a “sugar excessive” that farmers may tumble down from.
“That’s not coincidental with the truth that it is a yr that’s divisible by 4 — in different phrases, an election yr. And the administration sees nice benefit, even perhaps a necessity to guarantee that farmers and rural neighborhood members are pleased with him,” Logan stated. “With the deficits as excessive as they’re, it’s very powerful for me to think about the continuation of those huge funds that farmers have obtained.”
Logan stated farm nation was seeing warning indicators of economic hassle earlier than the funds began coming in. Early on, his nonpartisan group was trying ahead to working with the Trump administration on commerce due to his group’s opposition to facets of the World Commerce Group.
However after almost 4 years of expertise, Logan believes the administration may have tackled commerce in a greater means. An evaluation by the Peterson Institute discovered that solely 30% of import commitments for the yr within the “Part 1” commerce deal between China and america had been met as of August, in response to Chinese language import information.
“However what I fear about is the way forward for American farming, having relied upon that Chinese language market for 40 years, and immediately it appears to be all however gone,” Logan stated. “And most of the people imagine that that could be a market that won’t return for American farmers largely as a result of Brazil has such huge productive functionality.”
He stated members of his group are in the end cut up on whether or not to proceed with Trump’s powerful commerce coverage on China, or to take a brand new path. He provides that except expectations for worldwide commerce are re-balanced or the farm security internet is re-engineered, the upcoming years for agriculture may very well be stormy.
The Ohio Valley ReSource will get help from the Company for Public Broadcasting and our companion stations.