In the News

Clay Center Dispatch
Editorial Board

Trump supporters can be found throughout the Midland Empire, and for good reason: Much of what loyalists sought in a new president has come to pass.

Still, this is proving to be a complicated relationship.

Set aside all the Twitter chatter, all of the ego-driven clashes with the press and public figures around the world, this is a president who has asserted his will and followed through on many of his campaign promises.

His dealings with North Korea and Russia are muddled, and still subject to interpretation, but his eagerness to reassert America’s interests on the world stage has many fans. The same is true for his spat with NATO allies, who agreed after Trump’s prodding to put billions more into financing our collective security.

Seeking to redraw international agreements he considers one-sided, Trump also has disrupted NAFTA and trade relations with both China and the European Economic Union.

NAFTA partners in Mexico and Canada are still talking with us, and the EU and Trump have brokered a stand-down from escalating tensions. But China — well, we’re on the leading edge of a trade war marked by tariffs and counter-tariffs.

The $12 billion in farm aid announced last week, as an offset to harm caused to farmers by the tariffs, is hardly the best use of government dollars. Farmers appreciate the help, but they would rather have free access to trade their goods on the world markets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to borrow money from the Treasury to pay producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. USDA also plans to buy the surplus of commodities that would have been exported and distribute it to food banks and other nutrition programs.

A third initiative will focus on helping farm groups develop new export markets.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue describes the aid program as a “short-term” remedy to deal with market disruptions while the government pursues fairer long-term trade deals.

But listen to the informed response of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas:

“Recently-imposed tariffs are having immediate effects on farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, but the long-term implications of disrupting supply chains and losing market shares that took decades to build up is perhaps even more concerning.

“It is time to inject more certainty into our trade policies. We ought to start by reaching an agreement on a modernized NAFTA and ending the threat of escalating a trade war.”

With due respect to what President Trump seeks to accomplish, this — not more tariffs or a bailout of farmers — is what is needed now.

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