Citing stock market gains, recent trade deals, and low unemployment rates, U.S. President Donald J. Trump tonight touted a “great American comeback” in his third State of the Union address. But as rural communities lag behind in many respects, this hardly paints the whole picture of the American economy.
In response to the President’s address, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:
“President Trump’s rosy outlook for the American economy is not just inaccurate – it’s insensitive to the millions of rural Americans who are struggling every day just to scrape by. Farm debt crept up to $416 billion in 2019, the highest it’s been since the 1980s farm crisis. Despite trade assistance payments, many farmers haven’t been able to withstand the financial pressures: nearly 600 farmers filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy last year – a shocking 20 percent spike – while thousands more decided to leave the business entirely.
“And while newly established trade deals are a bright spot for American agriculture, any tangible benefits for family farmers and rural communities are likely a long way off. This administration’s trade wars have caused real, lasting damage, both to agricultural export markets and to our reputation as a trading partner, and it will take time for both to recover. In fact, crop prices have dropped since USMCA and the phase one deal with China were signed, a strong indication that any improvements will be gradual, if at all.
“By ignoring these problems, President Trump isn’t making them go away – instead, he should work to include rural America in his great comeback by rebuilding our reputation as a reliable trading partner, establishing fair and stable agricultural markets, and addressing the root causes of our current farm crisis.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.