Conservative Economist: Trump ‘Definitely Picking Winners and Losers’ with Farm Aid

Jake Neher/WDET

American farmers will soon get $12 billion in emergency aid in response to the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Chinese products.

After President Donald Trump announced tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products, China retaliated with tariffs of equal value on U.S. goods like soybeans, pork, wheat, corn, and poultry among others. As a result, certain segments of agri-business—particularly soybean farmers—have been disproportionately hurt by this trade dispute.

To offset these losses, President Donald Trump announced the emergency aid on Tuesday.

Critics from both sides of the aisle argue that this aid is not the answer. They say farmers want trade, not subsidies or welfare. Supporters believe this aid will provide much-needed relief to struggling farmers.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Jeffrey Dorfman, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia and director of UGA’s Land Use Studies Initiative.

On if this aid is what farmers want:

I would say no, it’s really not,” says Dorfman. “What farmers really want to do is get rid of the tariffs, stop interfering with trade, and find markets for their products. They prefer to just do regular sales and not need the government welfare.”

On if this aid to farmers is unfair to other industries affected:

It is definitely picking winners and losers,” says Dorfman. “The car industry has been hit hard by the tariffs on steel imports and I haven’t seen President Trump offering the car companies or auto workers any bailout for the damage he’s done to them. In order to save a few thousand jobs in the U.S. steel-producing industry, we’re costing ourselves potentially tens of thousands of jobs in the steel using industry.”

On why President Trump chose farmers over other industries:

This is all politics. Who gets help in these things is all politics. So President Trump wants to protect his base in a bunch of red states, places with important Senate elections, and he doesn’t appear to care as much about auto workers and people in lots of other industries that use steel or other things that have been disrupted by the tariffs.”

On how this will affect food prices:

All these tariffs are going to make food prices in the U.S. even lower. Because we’re not going to be able to export as much, we’re gonna have to sell it here and that means American consumers are going to get a little bit of price break on their food.”

On how this trade war might end:

I see it ending with deals that make our trading situation slightly better. I think we will get some concessions from our trading partners and make trade fairer. I think the Trump administration will claim these are huge victories and end the trade war.”

But, Dorfman says, it’s not clear that the long-term benefits from this strategy will outweigh the long-term costs.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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