US farmers anticipate second round of Democratic debate in Michigan

World Today

Detroit is set to host the second round of debates among Democrats looking to challenge U.S. President Trump for his job next year. 20 candidates will appear in the live TV debates across two evenings.

One group that could be watching events closely are U.S. farmers, who have been hit by the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.


Michigan could be described as being ground zero for the 2020 Presidential Race.

A U.S. state that solidly backed Democrats for decades, Michigan, along with the likes of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, voted narrowly for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.

So how can Democrat candidates here win back support?

One area could be farming. The trade dispute between the U.S. and China has seen tariffs imposed on a range of commodities.

New data show US soybean sales to China, the world’s biggest market, slumped in the first half of the year to its lowest level in more than a decade.

Although the Trump administration recently announced a 16 billion dollar aid package for farmers, some here are calling for a long-term fix.

“Any of the leaders, don’t put obstacles in our spots and don’t pull things away from us,” said John Forell, a farmer in Michigan. “We don’t want subsidies per se to live off of. We want to produce a crop that we live off of. When government officials think it is just subsidies that will keep you going. Well those are just band aids.”

Adding to the bleak picture for U.S. farmers are low commodity prices as well as bad weather during the planting season.

This field on John Forell’s farm is full of corn. But this one, just across the road, is completely empty.

“If you go back to the ’80s where you probably lost a third of the farmers, and we are on the cusp of something like that happening if things don’t change,” said Forell.

U.S. farmers remain hopeful that a trade deal between China and the United States can be reached. But even if an agreement can be achieved, there are concerns as to whether the various markets will still be there.

“Some of the markets we have developed across the globe,” said John Kran of the National Legislative Counsel at the Michigan Farm Bureau. “They’ve taken years and years to develop and to build those relationships and to be that constant and trusted supplier and if we can’t be that trusted supplier, they are going to find it somewhere else.”

Many U.S. farmers face difficult challenges ahead. And some will no doubt be listening closely to the Democratic debates to see if their cause is being heard.