Monday, July 30, 2018

Tariff-stung Illinois farmers feel pain but keep the faith

Robert Klemm next to corn, on a farm in Waynesville, Illinois begun by his great-grandfather in 1905.


     Robert E. Klemm is a farmer, just like his father before him. And his father’s father before that. And his father’s father’s father before that.
     “I grew up right here,” said Klemm, standing beside a field of corn in Waynesville, Illinois, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago, on a farm his great-grandfather worked in 1905. Now he farms 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans, plus raises a smattering of cattle.
     Like most American farmers, he does not mince words about recent shifts in U.S. trade policy.
     “I don’t like the tariffs, as any agricultural producer wouldn’t,” he said. “It’s been very difficult on our economics. And I’m just hoping the president continues the negotiations. I understand the need of it. But it’s hit our pocketbooks really hard … I’m gravely concerned. It’s not going to hurt us. It is hurting us. It has and will.”
     President Donald Trump was elected, in part, by promising to revive domestic American industries such as steel, aluminum and coal. Over the past few months, he has imposed tariffs on imported steel, aluminum and other products from the European Union, Canada, Mexico and particularly China — earlier this month he levied tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products.
     When a country is hit by tariffs, however, it invariably hits back, and retaliatory tariffs slammed a wide swath of American industries, from motorcycles to beer. Harley Davidson announced it is expanding European operations; Budweiser is raising prices to reflect higher cost of cans.


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Corn.



14 comments:

  1. Thanks. Where i had begun to lump all Trump supporters into one of two camps - the outright hateful racist or the slack-jawed faithful - that made me automatically dismiss anything they said, I now know that my reaction was turning me into the very thing i despise. A person who refuses to put aside his or her bias and listen and try to understand those who disagree so a conversation can, at the least, be considered.

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    1. yes Paul there is a lot of that type of thing that goes on. be careful you can get shouted down for saying it. called a concern troll , or be accused of siding with the trump supporters of be mistaken for one of them. specially round here

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    2. "speialy around here"? I don't know what that means. i'm not being flippant, i really don't understand.

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  2. all my uncles and cousins farmed in the 80s in northern Missouri . only 2 left and their in theirs 80s now. spent my summers down there haying when I was a kid. they'd complain when it rained , they'd complain when it didn't, they'd complain it was too hot, too cold, that Washington needed to do X to help the farmers, that they had stop doing Y , it was hurting the farmers.

    farmings hard work you do about half the year. I don't envy them. but a lot of people have made a damn good living and a real nice life farming. I don't have much sympathy for them either. their basically small business owners like me but they sell a product everyone needs and some farmers are multinational corporate entities now.
    most of them are fundamentalist christians, who abhore the identity politics of the left. couple this with their economic stance , of course they support trump. name one democrat they could get behind?

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    1. People can be short sighted, like your farmer who complains about the rain. we've all heard people complain about airport security check lines. Some, Orlando are worse than others, we actually have it easy at O'hare, my experience. Beyond the fact that it has become a necessity, it is a minor inconvenience. We can fly across the continent in 6 hours, a journey that took our ancestors 6 months or more.

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    2. That image of high skies and high corn brings back a lot of nostalgic memories of the years I spent in conservative, overwhelmingly-Republican DeKalb County from the mid-Sixties to the early Seventies. The farmers and the townspeople despised the vocal minority of left-leaning university students, who despised them right back. We didn't end up like Kent, Ohio, but we didn't miss by much. Hard to believe it was almost a half-century ago. But it's all going to happen again. Not a matter of if, but when.

      As for the "minor inconvenience" of checkpoints, those barriers never changed traveling for the better. We could already fly across the continent in the same six-hour span before 9/11, and in that same timespan even before the security gates and the metal detectors were first installed in the early Seventies. Planes don't fly any faster when they are "safer"...boarding them just gets slower.

      What seems at first to be a "necessary evil" soon becomes routine, and even commonplace. Restrictions once considered unthinkable and even Orwellian are soon taken for granted. Who else still remembers kissing loved ones hello or good-bye at the gate? Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago. Oh, yeah. And they are never coming back.

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  3. “I’m a man of strong faith,” said Klemm

    There is an endless trail of human wreckage in Trump's wake, the wreckage of people who put trust in the man. Mr. Klemm's faith in a narcissistic con man puts him at risk of being part of that trail of destruction.

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    1. The key is Klemm's statement: "I trust in our government enough." He never mentions Trump.
      Later Neil states: "They're in it for the Long haul." Administrations change. Farmers endure.

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  4. I wonder how long it's going to take those farmers to wake up and realize that Trump isn't going to do anything for them.

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    1. I doubt if it will happen, Scribe. At least in the foreseeable future. I think people form a certain idea of what they believe in and what appeals to that belief, and it’s difficult to think of reversing course. Perhaps it’s too hard or heartbreaking for them to admit they were wrong. Add religious faith to the mix and it becomes almost unthinkable.

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    2. I assume very few people who voted for Trump find themselves wishing Clinton was president instead Frank bruni wrote great piece in the NYT last week and mentioned in it that Americans rejected the idea of lineage presidency in 2016 .First jeb then Hillary . Both major parties put forth candidates in the primaries that made voters have to hold their noses. Bernie and Donald we're the only 2 that excited people in anyway. And Bernie didn't have a TV show so what did we get a meglomaniacal despot. Jokes on all of us. Sadly it looks like he's caused consequences that can't be repaired for decades. Hoping for another recession. Maybe then this nightmare won't last 4 additional years

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    3. Bill Maher got accused of hoping for a recession. Bill Maher said the same thing and got castigated for it. I don't think either of you have to hope for it. I would not be surprised if we don't see another crash.

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  5. So much for heartwarming farm stories. The moral of todays' piece is that Trump is not the disease, but only a symptom. Sure hope there's a cure.

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