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Doug Sombke, president of South Dakota Farmer's Union
Courtesy Photo
Doug Sombke, president of South Dakota Farmer's Union

Leader of SD Farmer's Union warns state's economy will get worse


News Staff - August 7, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.  – While South Dakota ranchers are praising Trump and his administration’s trade negotiations for American beef, the state’s farmers are singing a different tune.

In a public reaction to China’s latest shot in what is now a drawn out trade war, the president of South Dakota’s largest member ag organization put it this way.  “Just ‘buckle up buttercup,’ cause its gonna’ get bad," says Doug Sombke, president of the South Dakota Farmer’s Union.

With a red swath from North Carolina to Texas and up through the Midwest to North Dakota and Idaho, Trump won 70 percent of the vote in counties with no metropolitan or suburban population and often lots and lots of farms and ranches. Some of those states gave the president a massive victory, like Alabama (62 percent), North Dakota (63 percent), South Dakota (62 percent), and Kansas (56 percent).

And his approval rating with them remains strong — 57 percent, far higher than the 39 percent of Americans overall.

But promises of a quick win of a trade war with what was once the largest US trading partner - China - has resulted in decimated farm prices, rising input costs, a recent announcement from China that it would buy no U.S. agricultural products and the Chinese government devaluing it’s currency to make its products cheaper on the world export/import stage.  

"The farmers were the ones that elected this President, this administration, and it seems that he just thinks that tariffs work differently than they actually do."

Sombke doesn't think Beijing is bluffing so there are even tougher times ahead for the agriculture economy. He says President Trump's trade strategy is not working.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has said that President Trump's trade wars have "devastated” the  state, noting that trade issues affect farmers but also affect every main street business. 

Sombke agrees the latest  ban is going to affect hometown South Dakota, just not the family farmer.

Even while Trump created a $12 billion bailout program for farmers, and in May 2019 outlined another plan to give them an additional $15 billion, it’s not enough to save hundreds of family farms. According to the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, the number of farm bankruptcies has doubled in South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota

Another major trade agreement – with what is now the largest trading partners of the U.S. - Canada, and Mexico - has yet to be ratified by Canada or the U.S., contributing further to uncertainty in U.S. agriculture and financial markets.

Industry analysts say if the United States, Canada and Mexico Trade Agreement isn’t ratified by all three governments this year, it risks getting bogged down in the U.S. presidential campaign next year.



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