Farmer support for President Donald Trump is holding steady to slightly higher than it was in December, according to the latest Farm Journal Pulse survey.
Seventy-eight percent of the 1,043 farmers and ranchers who weighed in on the late-January poll say they either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the way Trump is conducting his job. The poll is the second in a series to track sentiment on the president’s job performance among farmers and ranchers.
Trump’s high approval rating in January is statistically no different than the 76% approval rating he received in December.
Randy Russell, The Russell Group, attributes the high marks for Trump to a couple of reasons.
“The president has made controlling the border, securing the border and the ill effects of what happens when you don’t control the border a very big issue, and I think farmers and rural Americans support and agree with that,” Russell says.
“[Second], the Chinese have been stealing our intellectual property and forcing companies to transfer technology to them. We’re at a pivotal point, and for the first time we’ve got a president who’s trying to do something about it. Farmers may not agree with every tactic he uses or everything he says, but they support what he’s trying to accomplish,” Russell adds.
In early February, Reuters reported China had purchased at least 1 million metric tons of soybeans from the U.S. The upbeat news arrived just in time, says Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer policy analyst.
“Farmers and ranchers were always going to give him a certain time period to [resolve trade issues], and it looks to be by the Ides of March of this year,” he says, referencing the decision by Trump’s administration to set March 2 as the date to start imposing higher tariffs on China if trade talks have stalled.
“This is good timing for at least the potential for President Trump to deliver. He needs some wins now in trade policy and in farm country,” Wiesemeyer adds. “That goodwill [could] only go on for so long.”
Wiesemeyer is calling 2019 a “gut-check year” for the president and agriculture because of the continued poor economic outlook.
“Working capital is down 70% from the high in 2012. Lots of farmers and ranchers, the majority probably, have eaten into their equity so they need a turnaround in prices, and that also means policy,” Wiesemeyer says. “They feel like they have served on the open front in some of these battles, willingly so until now. There has to be a time in which you show progress, and it looks to be at hand.”
To listen to the “D.C. Signal to Noise” podcast featuring Russell and Wiesemeyer, visit bit.ly/2-1-Signal-to-Noise