Iowa farmers are facing falling corn prices, hurricane-level destruction, and the highest coronavirus transmission rates in the country. Former Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack says it didn't have to be like this.
In a virtual press conference today, Vilsack blamed President Trump for the state's high number of COVID-19 cases, slow disaster relief, and stunted corn sales.
"When was the last time the United States went to war of any kind without an ally? When we went to this trade war with China, we went alone. They hit us hard with those retaliatory tariffs, and, you know, they did it in a smart way. They did it in a way that didn't affect and impact their consumers because they essentially only established retaliatory tariffs on things where they could buy it somewhere else in the world. We in turn established retaliatory tariffs on a number of things where the only place we could get them was China, and the result was that our consumers ended up paying higher prices."
Joining Vilsack on the conference call was Rob Burn, a welder at John Deere. He says in 2018, the company expected corn prices to rise to $7 a bushel. After President Trump's trade deal with China, he says prices dropped to $3.50.
"In the Quad Cities area and in a lot of Iowa, John Deere and a lot of other farm manufacturing goes on, they employ a lot of people, and we are directly tied to whatever happens in the farm markets. If we don't sell corn and soybeans, we don't sell farm equipment."
Burn says the trade tariffs were a problem even before COVID. Now, with a high transmission rate and hundreds of acres destroyed by the derecho, jobs are in jeopardy.