Missouri farmers support Trump, despite tariffs


Farmer Harry Thompson examines some of his soybean crop near Jefferson City, MO.Farmer Harry Thompson examines some of his soybean crop near Jefferson City, MO.

China’s retaliatory tariffs are hitting Trump supporters hard-especially in the American Midwest. But, will dissatisfaction with Trump’s trade policy turn voters against him during the upcoming midterm elections?

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports from the U.S. state of Missouri where Trump won an overwhelming victory in America’s 2016 presidential election.

In cowboy hats and baseball caps, American farmers came to the state capital to pick a politician, hoping to keep Washington focused on the heartland.

“I’ll be honest with you, I really think our way of life is under threat,” said Josh Hawley, U.S. Senate candidate.

“You guys don’t want bailouts! You don’t want handouts!” rallied Senator Claire McCaskill.

They are two perspectives from two candidates-both running to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate. This race is considered a ‘litmus test’ for Donald Trump’s agenda.

“The president needs reinforcements and he encouraged me to run for this seat,” Hawley told a crowd of more than 200 farmers gathered at the Missouri Farm Bureau in Jefferson City, Mo.  “I’m proud to enjoy his full support in this race.”

Missouri is one of the top U.S. pork exporting states. It’s also a major soybean producer. Beijing targeted both products with duties-retaliating against President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

Blake Hurst, President, Missouri Farm Bureau Federation says farmers should be concerned.

“If tariffs stay in place, if this is the new normal; if the president has enacted these tariffs, not as a negotiating ploy, but because he thinks they’re good in and of themselves, we’ll be losers.”

Here in the state of Missouri, one out of every three rows of soybeans goes to China as export. But even before the tariffs, Missouri farmers were struggling with drought. 

Farmer Harry Thompson stands in a field of soybeans near Jefferson City, MO

Farmer Harry Thompson stands in a field of soybeans near Jefferson City, MO

When it comes to Trump’s emergency aid for farmers, the size of the harvest-matters. A smaller harvest this year, will mean a smaller bailout for crop producers.

“Farmers are willing to hold on for awhile, but we still have a bottom line., and it has to be met,” said Harry Thompson, Missouri Farmer.

Even though Thompson’s livelihood hangs in the balance, he won’t criticize the president’s negotiating style- just yet.  He thinks Trump needs room to cut a deal and more support in Congress.

“This state voted for this president by 20 points and at the very least, that means the voters want something to be done,” Hawley reminded the room.

In the end, Thompson and the rest of the Missouri Farm Bureau are endorsing the candidate who supports Trump- even though the tariffs are causing crop prices to plunge.