US Farmers Support Trump as He Screws Them (plus Tweets)

On 8 January Donald Trump sent out three tweets about his latest speech to his base. That day, he spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Most of those in attendance support him strongly, but why? What exactly is Trump doing for his country’s farmers? As far as I can tell, he’s royally screwing them.

Trump’s speech (video here) covered the usual points. There was the standard boast about job creation, despite 2017 being the worst year since 2011 for job creation. Further, the jobs that are created are not in the agricultural sector. In fact, the non-partisan US Bureau of Labor Statistics says,

Overall employment of agricultural workers is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. Despite increased demand for crops and other agricultural products, employment growth is expected to be tempered as agricultural establishments continue to use technologies that increase output per farmworker.

There was also a boast about how the recent tax cuts will help farm workers. However, the wages of farm workers are so low (c. US$22,540 pa on average) that their tax cut will be only about US$5.00 per week. Now when you’re that poor, every little bit helps. And actually, every $5.00 given to a poor person is worth significantly more to the economy than $10,000.00 given to a person in the top 1 percent. (Because poor people spend all the extra they get, and there are a lot more of them.) But, the economy would be much better off if poor people got a much bigger tax cut and the top 1% got nothing extra.

Trump also made much of the estate tax (aka death tax), and how that would help farmers keep their farms in their families. However that is not true. Before the current tax cuts, a single person could pass on an estate worth US$5.49 million tax free. For a couple, it was US$10.98 million. It was only over those values that the tax (40%) came in. And the tax was only on the amount over and above $5.49 million (or $10.98 million), not the whole amount. Further, this amount was indexed to inflation in 2012, protecting farmers in the future. CNN reports:

In 2016, only 682 taxable estates — or just 13% of all taxable estates — reported having any farm assets at all, said Beth Kaufman, an estate tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale and former associate tax legislative counsel at the Treasury Department.

And those farm assets represented just a small percent of the gross estate values on average. That suggests that for many in this select group, the farm was not the sole — and maybe not even the primary — source of income. It also suggests that there may be other assets to tap if needed to pay an estate tax bill.

For example, Kaufman noted, farm assets represented just 5.4% of total assets on average in taxable estates worth between $5 million and $10 million. That drops to 3.6% for estates worth between $10 million and $20 million, to just under 2% for those worth between $20 million and $50 million, and to 1.5% of estates valued at more than $50 million.

It’s thus extremely rare for the estate tax to even affect your average farmer. As CNN says:

Republicans calling for the repeal of the federal estate tax often claim it makes it hard for American farmers and ranchers to pass on the family business to the next generation.

But most U.S. family farms are unaffected by the federal estate tax.

For starters, about 90% of farms are small — meaning they bring in $350,000 or less in revenue a year, according to the USDA. And the median wealth for farm operator households was $827,300 in 2015.

On top of that, the government is actually understanding about the difficulties farmers can have paying the tax bill when they inherit the family farm. Again from CNN:

But estate tax law does offer options to mitigate the issue of high property values and to give heirs of farms more time to pay any tax owed, rather than forcing them to sell. …

In cases where estate tax is owed, normally it’s due within 9 months from the date of death. But family members who inherit a farm and plan to continue running it are allowed to take 15 years to pay it off if the farm assets make up 35% or more of an estate’s value. What’s more, the heirs may choose to only pay interest on the tax due in the first four years, Kaufman said.

The truth is, the repeal of the tax is just what the Democrats are saying: a sop to the top 1% who make most of the campaign contributions to politicians. Especially, it will save the Trump family tens of millions of dollars when he dies. It will help no one else except his billionaire buddies. So much for the lack of a privileged class in the US. That’s always been a myth.

Trump’s speech was full of the kind of statement he makes constantly to feed his base so they give him the cheers and applause his ego needs for survival. For example:

We’re restoring the rule of law and protecting our cherished Second Amendment.

That got huge approval, but why? I may be wrong, but I have seen nothing relating to the Second Amendment so far in Trump’s presidency. There were several other such pronouncements. I won’t bore you with the details.

Well maybe one more:

… including our wonderful ICE officers and Border Patrol Agents.  These are incredible people who endorsed me during the campaign, and they are incredible.  (Applause.)

(By the way, the claim that Border Patrol agents endorsed Trump during the campaign has been rated “Mostly False” by Politifact.)

The job the Border Patrol Agents are doing is actually problematic for many farmers. They can’t get workers locally, and rely on those that come over the border, often illegally. The US Department of Labor did a survey of farm workers. An incredible 75% of them were born in Mexico, and 53% of all workers were not legally authorized to work in the US.

Trump didn’t dwell on this topic, and mainly spoke about the drugs aspect of border control. Whoever wrote the speech knows that the reduction in illegal workers is going to cause a huge problem for farmers in a few months time. Unless Trump gets a guest worker programme sorted pretty quickly, there could be crops rotting in the fields next harvest, and a huge rise in food prices due to both food shortages and farmers being forced to pay higher wages to attract US-born workers.

Next, he went onto trade:

To level the playing field for our great American exporters — our farmers and ranchers, as well as our manufacturers — we are reviewing all of our trade agreements to make sure they are fair and reciprocal — reciprocal, so important.

This goes back to Trump’s ignorant belief that if the US has a trade deficit with another country, the trade agreement is unfair. There are three main reasons the US has a trade deficit with most countries, and they have nothing to do with fairness.

1. The US has more people than most of its trading partners. Therefore, there are more USians available to buy things from the other country than there are people in the other country to return the favour.

2. The US is wealthier than most of the countries it trades with. Therefore, USians have more money to spend on goods from other countries than they have to spend on USian goods.

3. The US has higher wages than most of the countries it trades with. Therefore it is simply not able to produce goods at a competitive price. Instead of focusing on labour intensive industries, Trump should be focusing on areas where additional skill and expertise are required, like IT, where the US is still a world leader.

Trump screwed the US farmers by pulling out of TPP. They need those markets. Trump has cut them off from several lucrative markets by this move. He thinks that trade deals are easy and quick to negotiate, and that he can arrange a bi-lateral deal in no time flat.

So tell me, exactly how many trade deals has Trump put in place since becoming president? I’ll tell you. None. Zero. Zilch.

As well as pulling out of TPP, he’s threatened NAFTA because he believes that’s “not fair” either. His announcement last week that he would pull the US out of NAFTA saw the markets dip. When the Wall Street Journal pointed this out to him, he said he didn’t believe it!

WSJ: Did you see the other economy news yesterday? The markets did dip a little bit after some news suggesting that you were going to maybe pull out of Nafta. I wonder where you’re at on Nafta and if you’re concerned about the impact pulling out and renegotiating could have on the market.

Mr. Trump: I’m not sure that markets would dip; I think that markets would—I can tell you I’m not sure about world markets, but I can tell you I think the American market would go up if I terminated Nafta and renegotiated a new deal. …

If we don’t make the right deal, I will terminate Nafta. OK?

Now, do I want to? No, I’d rather leave it, but I feel that if that if—you know, the United States has been treated very, very badly. That has been a terrible agreement for us, and if we don’t make a good deal for our country—we lose $71 billion in trade deficits with Mexico. We lose $17 billion with Canada. If we don’t make a fair deal for the United States and the United States taxpayer, then I will terminate it.

If he really believes the market would go up if he terminated NAFTA, why hasn’t he done it? Probably because people behind the scenes aren’t letting him. Most Economists and others who understand the situation agree that NAFTA has been positive for the US. Many blame the reduction in manufacturing in the US on NAFTA. However, an analysis of the situation shows that in reality, it’s robots that are taking the majority of US jobs, not Mexicans.

Now there is one good thing that Trump is doing for farmers, and the announcement was buried in the middle of the speech:

The task force heard from farmers that broadband Internet access is an issue of vital concern to their communities and businesses. Is that a correct statement? (Applause.)

That is why today, in a few minutes, I will take the first step to expand access to broadband Internet in rural America — (applause) — so you can compete on a level playing field, which you were not able to do. Not fair. I will sign two presidential orders to provide broader and faster, and better Internet coverage. Make sure you look up @realDonaldTrump. Right? (Laughter.) I have a feeling you get that anyway. It’s our only way around the media. Fake media. (Applause.)

Broadband internet access is indeed extremely important for farmers, and this is a good step in the right direction. I hope, for the sake of farmers, that this happens quickly.

He also had this to say:

The task force also focused on the need to rebuild our crumbling rural infrastructure.  We’ve already slashed harmful restrictions that delayed critical infrastructure projects for decades and decades.  Hard to believe.  And we are proposing infrastructure reforms to ensure that our rural communities have access to the best roadways, railways, and waterways anywhere in the world.  And that’s what’s happening.  We’re going to be spending the necessary funds, and we’re going to get you taken care of.  It’s about time.  (Applause.)  And these projects are going to be built — like I do — under budget and ahead of schedule.  Right?  (Applause.)

Now if he does indeed sort out the crumbling infrastructure, I will applaud him for this too. However, I’ll believe it when I see it. Obama tried to do this and Congress wouldn’t give him the funds. There seems to be a lack of understanding about how economics works amongst politicians, and they don’t realize that sorting out the country’s infrastructure is a vital investment that will pay it’s cost back many times over.

If farmers want to do better, they need to look beyond the hype and see what Trump and the Republicans are actually doing. The Trump administration is not helping them, it’s hurting them.

And I haven’t even mentioned environmental issues. Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord is bad for the reputation of US farmers. Europeans in particular will choose not to buy food from the US because of that, whether or not their farmers have good environmental practices. But that’s a whole new topic.


Political Tweets

Some Republicans still have principles …
(Via Ann German.)


What I want to know is when the encounter took place. Was he married or single when this happened? I personally don’t have a problem with prostitution. It’s been legal in New Zealand since 2003, and I think that’s good. It’s safer for both the workers and their clients in multiple ways. However, if he betrayed someone in a relationship, then it’s an issue.


Says it all really. If David Duke approves, it must be wrong!


Just sayin’.

At least with Trump’s “shithole” comment, most of us never heard about the machinations of Eric Greitens. And how often do these esteemed former US Navy Seals turn out to be such a$$holes? The Seals are so much into “good character”, that atheists aren’t allowed to join!
(Via Ann German.)


Human Rights Tweets

The protestors in Iran were most upset by the way the conservative clerics have taken all the money for themselves, leaving the poor to suffer. Billions of government money goes to them while government workers remain unpaid.


Another man who doesn’t understand that women are people too.
(Via Ann German.)


There’s a video in the link showing Trump’s history of racist comments. His appalling “shithole” comment recently is just one of a long list that shows how he thinks.
(Via Ann German.)


What will they find?
(Via Ann German.)


Now we know! It’s not because they’re mostly melanin-challenged after all! We all misjudged him …


Science Tweets

This is amazing!
(Via Ann German.)


The link goes to a series of films about women scientists. I haven’t watched any myself yet, so can’t comment on how good they are, but they sure look interesting!
(Via Ann German.)


Sports Tweets

As I add tweets to this post, I’m watching NZ versus Pakistan in a one-day match (cricket). I’m not sure the game will last long enough for me to finish this! It’s 16/6!!! The tweet below is the fourth wicket.


Ten minutes later, and it’s 30/7.

Five more minutes. 32/8. Absolutely brilliant catch by Kane Williamson!

52/9. I better hurry up and finish!


Lego Tweets

This is very cool!
(Via Amy Carparelli.)


Funny Tweets

I don’t know if this is real (I suspect not), but it’s cool all the same!


Entertainment Tweets

Okay, can any of you do this?!


Scenic Tweets

What a beautiful country! 😀


Space Tweets

Very cool indeed!
(Via Ann German.)


And also extremely cool!
(Via Ann German.)


And more coolness!
(Via Ann German.)


Creepy-Crawlies Tweets

Cool pic!

Other Animals Tweets

Cuteness personified!
(Via Grania Spingies/Jerry Coyne.)


Very touching.


it’s her own fault for having a squirrel in the house!


Part five in the lovely Wild Norfolk series. There’s heather everywhere, and even a nightjar! (Trigger warning: there’s a spider too!)


A new creature has been discovered …


Bird Tweets

What big ears you have!


The narrator on this video is very rude about the kakapo, and also mispronounces the name. It’s car-car-poor, and all Maori nouns are singular as well as plural, like sheep. But it’s still very cool.


What a cutie!

Dog Tweets

Typical dog!


Does that mean he likes it?


No comment!

Cat Tweets

Not amused!


Awww …


I think the dog knew it was there!


Designed just for the cat.


It’s clearly instinct!


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27 Responses to “US Farmers Support Trump as He Screws Them (plus Tweets)”

  1. I speculate that a number of the people who who slavishly endorse Trump are subject to the cult of the personality. Part of human nature is to follow a strong personality. Ref Hitler and Stalin.

    Another syndrome is to support people who reflect bigotry – providing it is the same as ours of course. This is an indictment on some of the American population in my opinion.

    Hopefully “the times are a changing” at some time in the future.

    Congratulations on your tweet posts heather – enjoyable and entertaining

    • Thanks Martin.

      I agree about the reasons a lot of people voted for Trump. Surveys show that the biggest correlation when it comes to Trump voters is with right wing authoritarians. (Left-wing authoritarians preferred either Bernie or the Greens, though there were/are less of them. They didn’t make up a majority of their voters.)

  2. Jenny Haniver says:

    I agree with you — if someone wants to consort with a prostitute, that’s their business, as long as they aren’t betraying someone they’re married to or in a committed relationship with.

    According to the Washington Post: “The lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly paid Stephanie Clifford to remain silent about an encounter at Lake Tahoe in 2006, a year after Trump married his third wife, Melania, according to the Journal.” So if all this is correct, Trump was indeed married at the time. He’ll call it all this lies and fake news, of course.

    And will his base and the Evangelicals and the craven, boot-licking Republicans give a damn? Not a tinker’s damn.

    • Jenny Haniver says:

      That’s a mighty expensive f*.

    • Even worse, I’ve started noticing a trend of interviewers asking Republicans, “Do you think Mike Pence would do/say this.” It’s probably an attempt to make Republicans think about impeachment. However. Pence has always been one of Trump’s biggest enablers. He’s the one that keeps the right wing Evangelicals on Trump’s side, and he’s always standing there behind him ready to explain what he really means. If/when he becomes president, you can bet we get a speech about God putting him there.

      I also bet Melania was just waiting for the campaign to be over so she could leave him. Winning meant she was stuck with him for at least four more years before she got her reward for putting up with his hands on her body and all the rest. His general behaviour is that of a controlling and physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive husband, and it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that about him.

      • Jenny Haniver says:

        I agree with your take on Pence. Also agree with your assessment of Melania. No wonder she puts Grumpy Cat to shame. No wonder she doesn’t even try to conceal her displeasure at being First Lady. He’s in bed with hookers and cheeseburgers (and TV and twitter). No wonder they have separate bedrooms!

        • He probably snores really badly and, with that diet, farts all night too. I bet those weren’t the excuses she used though. More like: you are so energetic and I just can’t keep up with your amazing constitution. I need my sleep to look good and get the energy to give you the attention you deserve. He would have believed every word, and more.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Likewise for most other first ladies — Hillary, Jackie, Mamie, Eleanor, and the rest — as well as Ethel, Joan, and countless political spouses everywhere from time immemorial.

  3. j.a.m. says:

    It is not the case that the top 1% “make most of the campaign contributions to politicians.”

    Top All-Time Donors
    1. Service Employees International Union (Dem.)…$279,681,422
    2. Fahr LLC (Dem.)…$171,687,950
    3. National Education Assn (Dem.)…$121,985,910
    4. Las Vegas Sands (Rep.)…$113,838,508
    5. American Federation of State/Cnty/Munic Employees (Dem.)…$112,922,746
    6. American Federation of Teachers (Dem.)…$107,435,055
    7. Renaissance Technologies (Both)…$101,020,934
    8. Carpenters & Joiners Union (Dem.)…$99,537,133
    9. Laborers Union (Dem.)…$87,281,906
    10. National Assn of Realtors (Both)…$86,218,960

    • That’s an interesting way of making the facts fit your narrative. Now do the list the other way – listing individual politicians and their donors by election. You will get very different results.

    • nicky says:

      Those numbers are all donations since 1989
      If we go to 2016 donors the picture is slightly different.
      1 Fahr LLC $90,626,606 100% Dem
      2 Renaissance Technologies $59,265,461 57% Dem 43% Rep
      3 Las Vegas Sands $44,342,166 100% Rep
      4 Paloma Partners $41,946,500 100% Dem
      5 Service Employ Internat Union $39,308,474 100% Dem
      6 Adelson Drug Clinic $38,847,300 100% Rep
      for the top 6

      1 Adelson, Sheldon G. & al $3,282,800 100% Rep
      2 Eychaner, Fred $2,462,39 100% Dem
      3 Pritzker, James R. & al $2,363,100 100% Dem
      4 Sussman, S. Donald $2,018,000 100% Dem
      5 Singer, Paul E. $1,967,200 100% Rep
      6 Griffin, Kenneth C. & $1,842,050 100% Rep
      7 Wright, Karen A. $1,718,874 100% Rep

      For the top 7, and yes 8 is also Rep

      This gives us a more balanced view, ne?

  4. j.a.m. says:

    That so-called “fact check” on the union endorsements is hilarious. You may be sure that the self-appointed “fact-checkers” have never once issued any kind of quibble or qualification when a liberal boasts about being endorsed by “teachers” or any other union. (And the implication that a normal human cannot differentiate between an organization and its individual members is absurd.) Great example of why people have come to see the self-appointed “fact-checkers” as hacks.

    Not to mention the common media practice of referring to various pressure groups as proxies for all “women” or “students” or “Latinos” or what have you.

    • They do check that if/when such claims are made. You will find that Politifact checks statements made by Dems too, and announces them to be false, or even Pants on Fire lies when that occurs.

      Or are you going to do your usual thing of accepting their word when they agree with you, and dismissing them when they don’t?

      I don’t know how you keep things straight in your head with all the conflicting things you believe.

    • nicky says:

      I beg to disagree. Those fact-checkers take their job seriously. I know some of them (Africa Check) and they come from rather different political backgrounds. These people are dedicated to their fact-checking, it is their life, bread and pride. A ‘wrong’ check would reflect extremely negatively on them. It is their worst case scenario.
      Note, it might happen that they ‘fact-check’ wrongly, but it is excessively rare, for the reasons pointed out above.
      If it appears that they are kinda anti-rightwing (which overall they are not) in the present US, it is because Mr Trump is such a systematic, habitual liar. That tends to skew their results somewhat, not of their intent, but just because it is so.

  5. Amy Carparelli says:

    Hello Heather,

    The Kakapo clip is from a BBC ‘Natural World’ series and the episode ‘Nature’s Misfits’. The episode was written and produced by Gavin Boyland and narrated by Bill Bailey. I don’t know if Bill Bailey had much if anything to do with the writing. You are correct about the pronunciation and I’m surprised Bill Bailey didn’t pronounce Kakapo correctly because he is a bird lover and written about birds as well as having his own show Bill Bailey’s Birdwatching Bonanza.

    Part of the description from Natures Misfits’ reads “Nature’s Misfits reveals the extraordinary and rarely seen lives of these evolutionary oddballs along with their strange habitats, unusual forms and the incredible hurdles they overcome.” I’m not sure if Bill’s narrating is more to do with how it was written or if he himself was trying to convey the incredible hurdles the animals/birds etc featured in the episode must overcome because of their unusual circumstances. I don’t know Bill Bailey personally, but he always comes across as a nice gentle friendly guy and he is a comedian with a love for birds and nature and is a feminist. Bill is patron of International Animal Rescue, and works on environmental conservation. I took the narration very differently, to me it came across like Bill Bailey was using his gentle comedic tones to highlight the difficulties the Kakapo has overcome. That might be more to do with Bill’s friendly comedic manner than the writing and as mentioned Bill didn’t write it or at least he isn’t credited as writer.

    • It’s not uncommon for Maori words to be mispronounced. Even if he asked a NZer, it’s possible he got wrong advice. However, it’s one of my pet hates, so I always correct it.

      I certainly wasn’t making any slurs on the character of the narrator based on a short clip that was obviously written for him. In fact, I wasn’t even being particularly serious about what he said. I guess meaning gets lost in writing quite often. I try to make it clear what I mean, but I get it wrong often still.

  6. Lee Knuth says:

    Those comments by Trump were indeed racist. To denigrate large segments of the population is certainly a despicable act by the leader of any country.

  7. nicky says:

    I quite liked the characterization ‘Shitholes”. Haiti, CAR, DRC, definitely ‘shitholes’, but some African countries (eg. Botswana or Rwanda, are hardly ‘shitholes’). But then, most of the world is ‘shitholes’: Pakistan, Syria and now Turkey too. Not to mention the KSA, particularly if not a Saudi, which may apply to more than half of it’s inhabitants. And in Europe too, the French ‘Banlieues’ would qualify, just as Sweden’s ‘Vulnerable Areas’ which have been popping up like mushrooms, it seems half of Sweden has become a ‘shithole’. And in the US, the ‘Inner Cities’ or ‘Deep Appalachia” would definitely qualify (most of this I already posted on WEIT).
    However, you are 100% correct in pointing out that brilliance and/or value may emerge from those ‘shitholes’, as your pediatric surgeon nicely illustrates. ‘Developed’ countries should facilitate these jewels to reach their potential, whether in their own ‘shithole’ or as immigrants.

    • Jenny Haniver says:

      It’s quite convenient for the privileged to ignore the fact that the US had a hand in turning most of these places into “shitholes”, and is still exploiting them. We need them to be shitholes so we can exploit their resources; damn the “natives.” And as I posted on WEIT: This is what Jan Egeland,Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, had to say

      “I’m a Norwegian who enjoyed studying & working in the US. The only thing that would attract me to emigrate to the US is your vibrant multicultural society. Don’t take that away.”

      • nicky says:

        Well, I do not forget that, and would agree to a large degree. The ‘West’ as a whole has quite a bit of butter on it’s head there indeed. However, even without the US, many countries are perfectly capable of creating their own ‘shitholes’. It is not just the US or the ‘West’.

  8. Miss Ironfist says:

    Oh. My. God. Black cat with black-cat-shaped fur ball. And a hedgehog!!!

    Strange. I follow your site; but, even when I am logged into WordPress, it doesn’t recognise me as a follower. On the app, it takes about four or five days for articles to show. Then I cam comment as a follower.

    • People have had a few problems like that. Often it’s something to do with not confirming the subscription because it went into the spam folder and was missed. Sometimes unsubscribing from comments can unsubscribe you from the site too. I don’t know what the delay is about though. It’s not one I’ve heard before.

      Could you make a spare black cat out of Theo’s fur, or is he tidier? 😀

  9. Mark R. says:

    I wish I could get a job that entails saving animals in trouble. I always appreciate those videos. Yet it is too random, and there is no job other than “Animal Control” that is devoted to saving animals if that is what they do…I guess Firefighter folks? I think it usually comes down to individual situations and an inherent need to save a compromised life. The fish part was weird though…I really don’t think fish have the cognizant ability to “know” someone/something saved them. It was probably looking for noms, fish definitely learn that from humans.

    Nice selection of tweets today. Thanks.

  10. j.a.m. says:

    American Exceptionalism in action: While Canada’s energy industry faces uncertainty, low prices and increasing tax burdens, thanks to her feckless “progressive” politicians, the USA energy sector is booming, thanks to unbridled ingenuity and free enterprise.

    Recall that the USA has led the world in natural gas production since 2009, and in petroleum production since 2013. That’s while reducing emissions, sparking a manufacturing renaissance, and creating jobs.

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