“Make ’Em Squeal” Backfires On Iowa Farmers


Remember Senator Ernst’s campaign pledge to go to Washington and “Make’em Squeal?”  Little did we know that her Trump-led Republican Party would start a trade war that would make Iowa farmers “squeal.” President Trump’s tariff threats aimed at China have Iowa’s agricultural community in turmoil as they anticipate the loss of exports sales. Iowa’s agricultural leaders are warning that these tariffs will potentially make farmers squeal in economic pain.

Senator Ernst is still defending President Trump. In her press release last week she says, “The President is right to increase pressure on China to change its ways.”

It appears Senator Ernst is putting her political loyalty to President Trump ahead of her loyalty to Iowa farmers and Iowans that depend on the related agricultural economy.

Trump admitted on Friday that famers are going to take the hit for his China bashing trade war, “I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, so we may take a hit,” Trump said. “They understand that they’re doing this for the country.”

The best Senator Ernst could do in her press release was to “hope” that Trump would consider more dialogue and public comment. “It’s my hope that the Trump administration will reconsider these tariffs and pursue policies that enhance our competitiveness, rather than reduce our access to foreign markets,” Ernst said.

Senator Ernst has often boasted about growing up on a farm in rural Iowa.  She claims her farm background provides her with the agricultural knowledge and experience to effectively defend and promote Iowa’s agriculture based economy. Yet all she offers in defense of Trump’s dangerous assaults on the livelihood of thousands of Iowans is double-talk.

“I experienced firsthand the hard work that goes into production agriculture.  Agriculture has long been the bedrock of our national economy and Iowa plays a critical part in ensuring folks in the U.S. and around the world have access to a safe and affordable food supply.  In fact, Iowans are a leading producer of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, and renewable fuels,” Ernst writes on her website.

Senator Ernst claims to understand the needs of Iowa agriculture and the critical role it plays in the national economy, but is unwilling or unable to unequivocally demand that Trump end his war on agriculture. It appears all Ernst’s bluster about making them squeal is pure hot air. When it comes to defending Iowa farmers against Trump’s tariff attacks, Ernst is leading from behind.

This isn’t the first time Senator Ernst has made these half-hearted criticisms of Trump attacks on Iowa agricultural. She acknowledges that Iowa depends on corn, soybeans, pork and renewable fuels to drive our economy, yet each time Trump has attacked, she has punted. Trump withdrew from the bi-partisan Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP) that agricultural leaders believed would greatly benefit Iowa agriculture. Trump has threatened to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has significantly increased Iowa farm exports to both Mexico and Canada. Trump has been unwilling to commit to the ethanol and biodiesel production mandate as well. Iowa farmers believe growing ethanol production is key to maintaining commodity prices. Now Trump is piling on Iowa farmers with additional anti-agriculture trade tariffs on China.

Senator Ernst has failed to confront President Trump each time he has assaulted Iowa agriculture. Her mild criticism of Trump policies and her condoning of his right to “increase pressure on China” simply encourages Trump to abuse Iowa farmers in his increasing dangerous tit-for-tat with China. Trump has totally ignored Iowa agricultural interests with his insults to Canada and Mexico, our two best export customers. Now he’s escalated his attacks on Iowa agriculture by playing a dangerous game of chicken with China over a full blown trade war.

Canada and Mexico have both responded to Trump’s attacks by saying they could find other sources for their agricultural needs. On Friday, China responded to Trump’s latest $100 billion tariff threat with a threat of their own.

“We will not start a (trade) war — however, if someone starts a war, we will definitely fight back,” Gao Feng, China’s commerce ministry spokesman, said on Friday. “No options will be ruled out.”

Senator Ernst could take a lesson from our Nebraska neighbor and her colleague, Republican Senator Ben Sasse. He wasn’t afraid to boldly condemn Trump’s tariff actions. He courageously stepped up and put the economic wellbeing of farmers ahead of Trump’s reckless trade tariffs.

“He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire,” Sasse said last week. “This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”


by Rick Smith
Posted 4/10/18

3 Comments on "“Make ’Em Squeal” Backfires On Iowa Farmers"

  • The trade deals of the past may have been beneficial to big business then, but were never negotiated for long term interests just short term financial gain . This was stupid ! The abrupt attempt to correct that stupidity with more stupidity is nothing more than ludicrous, cutting off ones nose to spite ones face ! There is a better way diplomatically to address antiquated trade deals , also smarter with out upsetting the apple cart in the possess .

  • Rick, you say, “It appears Senator Ernst is putting her political loyalty to President Trump ahead of her loyalty to Iowa farmers and Iowans that depend on the related agricultural economy.” The only correction I’d make to that statement is to remove “It appears”…
    And when our farmers take it in the shorts, all of Iowa will feel the pain. But our two illustrious Senators seem to be “just fine” with that prospect.
    “Make ’em squeal,” Sen. Ernst? Yeah – squeal with delight at your lack of backbone.

  • There’s also another Republican trade war, the attempt to undersell other countries, well below our full costs of production, to run farmers out of business in other countries, (and here). While OPEC managed supply to raise prices over the years, the US overproduced and lowered (1953-1995) and eliminated (1996-2018) minimum farm price floors, to lower the prices we receive on farm exports to below our costs. During the 1980s Democrats tried to reverse it with the Harkin-Gephardt farm bill, which was found by FAPRI to make much more on farm exports, ($248 billion) compared to projections for the 1985 farm bill ($137 billion).

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