Speaking to a crowd Tuesday night largely comprised of people from Nebraska and Iowa, President Donald Trump boasted about the trade war his administration has waged with China and how it has led to billions of dollars in federal payouts to farmers across the country.
“I tariffed $28 billion, took it from China and distributed it to our farmers,” Trump said last night at a rally in Omaha, Nebraska. “Nobody else, nobody else is going to do that. In fact, some people say our farmers do better now than when they actually had a farm.”
Watching a Fox News livestream of the event, some laughter can be heard following Trump’s quip about farmers, but CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, who was in attendance, said he observed “a lot of silence” from the crowd of thousands.
President Trump talks often about the aid his administration has given to farmers and the support he expects from them in return. But tonight, I heard a lot of silence when he declared: "Some people say our farmers do better now than they did when they actually had a farm."
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) October 28, 2020
Trump repeatedly has claimed the tariffs he imposed on China fund the farm aid packages he signed off on as the agricultural economy suffered. But that’s not how tariffs (a tax on imported goods) work.
“Tariffs are paid into the U.S. Treasury, and the Treasury funds the farm aid,” PolitiFact wrote in August 2019, after Trump claimed U.S. farmers received $16 billion “out of the tariffs that we’ve gotten from China.”
“Trump’s claim simply does not reflect how tariffs work,” the fact-checkers found. “The tariffs imposed by Trump have been paid almost entirely by U.S. importers, who pass much of that on to consumers through price increases.”
The New York Times reported earlier this month on the “extraordinary government bailout” that has taken place under the Trump Administration, noting projections from the American Farm Bureau that show debt in the farm economy will increase 4 percent this year to a record-breaking $434 billion. Farm bankruptcies, the American Farm Bureau says, are 8 percent higher than this time last year.
“Bankruptcy rates over the previous 12 months were the highest in the Midwest, Northwest and Southeast. Farmers in these regions filed a combined 464 bankruptcies, representing 80% of the filings across the U.S.,” the American Farm Bureau wrote in an August article. “At nearly 300 filings, a 23% increase, more than 50% of the Chapter 12 filings were in the 13-state Midwest region.”
Between July 2019 and July 2020, 33 Iowa farms filed for bankruptcy.
According to The Times, between the money sent to offset lost revenue due to the trade war and the pandemic-induced recession, “federal payments to farmers are projected to hit a record $46 billion this year as the White House funnels money to Mr. Trump’s rural base in the South and Midwest ahead of Election Day.”
The Washington Post reported this month a third of farm income in 2020 is expected to come from direct government payments.
3rd District congressional candidate David Young and Sen. Joni Ernst attended Trump’s rally Tuesday night, but only Young addressed the crowd. On a night when temperatures dropped below freezing, rally attendees were left waiting for hours near the Omaha airport to be shuttled several miles back to their cars after the event concluded around 9 p.m.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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