As Donald Trump obliviously barrels toward a trade war with China, voters in farm country feel like they’re witnessing a slow-motion nightmare come to fruition. Just after China announced new tariffs Monday on 128 products worth about $3 billion, Illinois hog farmer Brian Duncan told the Chicago Tribune:
“We were hoping it was just brinkmanship and cooler heads would prevail. But instead, some of our worst fears seem to be coming true,” said Duncan, who’s also vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “This is significant, real and serious for rural America.”
That was before Wednesday, when China announced another round of retaliatory tariffs on more than 100 products worth $50 billion, including soybeans, cars, chemicals and airplanes.
Amid tumbling stocks and fretting farmers—a loyal Trump voting bloc—the man who sits in the Oval Office demonstrated his trademark casual cluelessness for the concerns of anyone but himself. “We are not in a trade war with China,” he declared on Twitter Wednesday morning. And then Trump doubled down on China’s latest move with this pearl of wisdom regarding the U.S. trade deficit with the behemoth economy:
When youÃ¢ÂÂre already $500 Billion DOWN, you canÃ¢ÂÂt lose!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
You’re talking about their livelihoods, you dipshit. Yes, yes, they can lose. (Naturally, Trump didn’t even get the trade deficit figure correct—it’s closer to $375 billion.)
One out of every 3 soybeans grown in the U.S. is exported to China, largely to feed a rapidly growing hog industry for a booming middle class in China, said Rincker, who’s also a board member of the Illinois Soybean Association.
That amounted to more than $14 billion in soybean exports to China in 2016, according to the American Soybean Association.
Illinois was the top soybean-producing state in 2017, with about $3 billion in exports, according to estimates from the Illinois Soybean Association. China is the largest export market for whole soybeans.
China targeted soybeans for a reason:Eight of the biggest soybean exporting states voted for Trump in 2016, according to CNN. And Trump obviously couldn’t care less.