Iowa Democrats Failing To Address Trade Issues For Rural Iowa

Trump’s campaign made anti-trade a key part of his political messaging. During the campaign he talked about unfair trade and outsourcing of American jobs. However, Iowa agriculture and manufacturing have benefited from trade by increased exports. Now Trump’s anti-trade tirades are threatening Iowa exports and the rural economy.

Iowa Democrats have been nearly silent about the impact that a Trump trade war could have on Iowa exports and the Iowa economy. Many Iowans voted for Trump and the Republicans based on their promises to bring jobs back and rebuild rural Iowa. Now Trump’s trade policies threaten to alienate Iowa’s best export customers and devastate Iowa’s economy. Thousands of Iowans’ jobs are dependent on exports and Iowa’s rural economy lives and dies on the prosperity of Iowa agriculture.

Rural Iowans, many of whom voted for President Trump, are very worried about his trade war with our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. They’re not only our closest neighbors, they’re our biggest trading partners. Trump’s attacks are already forcing Canada and Mexico to reconsider the U.S. as a reliable partner.

In just the past 20 years, agricultural exports to Canada have tripled and exports to Mexico have quadrupled. Over 10% of all farm land is planted for export to Canada and Mexico. Mexico is the number one market for U.S. corn and the number two market for soybeans. Mexico is the largest market for American pork exports and number two for beef exports. These numbers demonstrate why rural Iowans are nervous about Trump’s ongoing trade war.

Mexican political leaders have already called for a boycott of U.S. corn, and have begun negotiating with Argentina and Brazil to import corn. The Mexican agricultural ministry has scheduled trade visits to Europe, Asia, and South America, including Brazil and Argentina to explore importing corn, grains and other products.

Canada announced multiple trade retaliations a few days after Trump placed a tariff on Canadian lumber imports. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau promised additional “tit-for-tat” retaliation for further attacks by Trump.

Iowa’s rural economy is largely dependent on the farm economy and it affects all Iowans. The huge cuts the Iowa legislature made to basic Iowa government services were the direct result of falling tax revenues. Losing exports would further weaken Iowa’s economy and result in more cuts to basic services. In order to fund education, clean up our water and rebuild rural Iowa, we must have the revenue from growing Iowa exports.

It’s not just Iowa agriculture that would suffer in a trade war. Iowa manufacturers export over 25% of their production as well.

All the main agricultural organizations have been warning the Trump Administration that his anti-trade talk is dangerous and threatens Iowa’s economic future. In February all the major representatives of Iowa’s commodity groups sent a letter to the Trump administration warning of the danger of a trade war. It was signed by the Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau. Their combined message to Trump was:

“For Iowa agriculture to thrive, we need trade agreements that recognize how important it is that the U.S. meat and grain industries, including beef, pork, corn, soybeans, and biofuels have market access at a competitive level in North America and across the globe …U.S. farmer’s productivity is on the rise, out pacing domestic demand, we are dependent that these markets continue to grow, or even harder economic times await Iowa farmers. Based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate, for every $1 of agricultural exports, another $1.22 is generated in business activity.”

National and Iowa Democrats are missing an opportunity to reach out to rural Iowa. They’re speaking out about Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and defending immigrants from Trump’s attacks, but they’re failing to stand up for rural Iowans and Iowa agriculture. Isn’t that why Democrats lost rural America in 2016?


by Rick Smith
Posted 5/10/17

4 Comments on "Iowa Democrats Failing To Address Trade Issues For Rural Iowa"

  • Iowans are getting what they voted for and Democrats are not in power.
    Strategically, Democrats speaking out too much right now would be seen as whining; maybe it’s better to save it for the campaign.

  • Excuse me but one would think the most important question this morning would be on the status of the United States of America and its standing in the world. It certainly starts at the top and trickle-down theory is still not working.

  • State and Federal Democrats are just NOT doing the work that is needed to expose the high costs to Iowans and all Americans with regards to any of the policies being put forth by the Republican president and his Republican administration. The Republican Congress continues to pass legislation that negatively affects all of us regardless of our party affiliation. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Democrats are not strongly pointing out what ongoing and possible future legislation will cost us.
    Part of the problem is left over from the last and previous election cycles. Democrats have not and cannot get their act together and present a strong and cohesive message that means much of anything to the individual on the street or the farmer out in the field. I have yet to see any information from the Iowa Democratic Party that indicates where the party stands and how it will stand up and fight for all Iowans. General platitudes just don’t cut it. I, and all Iowans, deserve some decisive, clear information that says this is what we stand for and this is how we will go about making what we stand for happen.

  • I’m looking for an article that explains in detail rather than generally how it came to be that Iowa’s tax revenues are falling so drastically. I’ve heard various iterations, but none official or hard-hitting. Hope the IowaStartingLine investigators can help me out here.

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