To the general public, President Donald Trump ranges from impressive to offensive, but many pork producers believe he is giving agriculture a fair shake.
General polls peg President Trump’s approval rating in the low forties, but the latest Farm Journal Pulse on the president’s approval far surpasses a majority, reaching up to a 76% approval rating based on nearly 1,200 responses. Only 21% said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of his job as president. Three percent were not sure.
The poll is the first in a series to track sentiment on the president’s job performance amongst farmers, ranchers and ag businesses.
The high ag approval numbers follow a flurry of news from Washington that impacts rural America from the signing of the farm bill to trade talks.
“U.S. pig farmers recognize that the Trump administration is holding firm to a campaign and presidential promise to renegotiate many long-standing unfair trade practices,” says Gregg Hora, pig farmer and president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “However, we as farmers and farm organizations encourage a quick resolve to the U.S. trade disputes in order to regain stability and to increase future exports.”
A recent PORK poll shows that trade tops the list of the biggest game changers and concerns of the pork industry in 2019. And, with an expected 2%-3% growth of the U.S. sow herd in 2019, Hora says it’s more critical than ever that Trump’s administration opens U.S. pork export markets and reduces or removes tariffs in Mexico.
“U.S. pork producers continue to be survivors with the U.S. and China trade disruptions with pork export market losses having a negative effect on volume of pork moved and prices received when selling pigs,” Hora says. “Dermot Hays of Iowa State University recently shared that trade losses of $20.00 per head are happening because of tariffs. With 10 million head per month harvested, that equals $200 million a month of potential lost value to rural America.”
Mike Haag, pig farmer and president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, remains optimistic about the positive news coming out of the trade talks.
“Getting final USMCA approved is critical, but I believe it will happen,” Haag says. “We need to rebuild and strengthen what we can with Mexico and Canada. If we can get USMCA approved, that will be a huge win this year.”
Haag also applauded Trump for signing the trade agreement with South Korea that has helped the pork industry increase export sales and helped relieve pressures from tariffs. In addition, market facilitation programs have provided some financial relief for pork producers, lessening the blow of price drops tied to Chinese tariffs.
“President Trump understands that farmers and agricultural supporters in the Midwest are a big part of why he was elected,” Haag says. “I believe he supports us and looks out for us. He realizes we are a big part of why he was elected.”
From an industry perspective, Haag ranks the president a B+, though personally, he’s a fan of the president.
“There’s no doubt his Secretary of Agriculture is awesome,” Haag says. “People forget what President Trump has done for us from a regulatory standpoint.”
While farmer support for the president comes amid a tough year for profitability, many applaud a tough trade stance against China.
“We’re all a little frustrated with what China has done on the soybean side, and just the whole grain marketing thing,” Ohio farmer Jed Bower told AgriTalk Radio host Chip Flory. “But I think we all realize that something needed to be done as far as trade overall. We’ve been taken advantage of for a long time… Now we have a president that’s willing to take on those battles."