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Farmers still support Trump despite costly trade war with China – National

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Farmers still support Trump despite costly trade war with China National

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Iowa farmer Tim Bardole survived years of low crop prices and rising costs by cutting back on fertilizer and herbicides and fixing broken-down equipment rather than buying new. When President Donald Trump’s trade war with China made a miserable situation worse, Bardole used up any equity his operation had and started investing in hogs in hopes they’ll do better than crops.


READ MORE:
‘Fight to the finish’: China vows to continue trade war as U.S. threatens $300B in tariffs

A year later, the dispute is still raging and soybeans hit a 10-year-low. But Bardole says he supports his president more today than he did when he cast a ballot for Trump in 2016, skeptical he would follow through on his promises.

“He does really seem to be fighting for us,” Bardole says, “even if it feels like the two sides are throwing punches and we’re in the middle, taking most of the hits.”

Trump won the presidency by winning rural America, in part by pledging to use his business savvy and tough negotiating skills to take on China and put an end to trade practices that have hurt farmers for years.

WATCH: China hits back with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods





While the prolonged fight has been devastating to an already-struggling agriculture industry, there’s little indication Trump is paying a political price.

But there’s a big potential upside if he can get a better deal — and little downside if he continues to get credit for trying for the farmers caught in the middle. It’s a calculation Trump recognizes heading into a reelection bid where he needs to hold on to farm states like Iowa and Wisconsin and is looking to flip others, like Minnesota.

A March CNN/Des Moines Register poll of registered Republicans in Iowa found 81 per cent approved of how Trump is handling his job, and 82 per cent had a favourable view of the president, an increase of five points since December. About two-thirds said they’d definitely vote to re-elect him. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.


READ MORE:
U.S. to raise tariffs on China to 25% on $200B worth of imports

A February poll by the same organizations found 46 per cent of Iowans approved of the job Trump was doing — his highest approval rating since taking office — while 50 per cent said they disapprove. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.

Many farmers are lifelong Republicans who like other things Trump has done, such as reining in the EPA and tackling illegal immigration, and believe he’s better for their interests than most Democrats even on his worst day. They give him credit for doing something previous presidents of both parties mostly talked about. And now that they’ve struggled for this long, they want to see him finish the job — and soon.

“We are the frontline soldiers getting killed as this trade war goes on,” said Paul Jeschke, who grows corn and soybeans in northern Illinois, where he’s about to plant his 45th crop.

“I’m unhappy and I think most of us are unhappy with the situation. But most of us understand the merits,” he added.

“And it’s not like anyone else would be better. The smooth-talking presidents we’ve had recently – they certainly didn’t get anything done.”

When the trade war started last summer, China targeted its first round of tariffs on producers in agricultural and manufacturing states that were crucial to Trump’s 2016 victory, such as Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Particularly hard hit were producers of soybeans, the country’s largest farm export.

WATCH: Walmart warns China tariffs will increase prices for U.S. shoppers





The most recent round of trade talks between the Trump administration and China broke up earlier this month without an agreement, after Trump accused China of backing out on agreed-to parts of a deal and hiked tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China. China imposed retaliatory tariff hikes on $60 billion of American goods, and in the U.S. the price of soybeans fell to a 10-year low on fears of a protracted trade war. U.S. officials then listed $300 billion more of Chinese goods for possible tariff hikes.

As China vowed to “fight to the finish,” Trump used Twitter to rally the farming community.

“Our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now,” Trump tweeted. “Hopefully China will do us the honour of continuing to buy our great farm product, the best, but if not your Country will be making up the difference based on a very high China buy.”


READ MORE:
China adds tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation

He added: “The Farmers have been ‘forgotten’ for many years. Their time is now!”

To partially offset the plunge in sales caused by the tariffs, Trump has promised an aid package, some $15 billion for farmers and ranchers, following $11 billion in relief payments last year.

Besides the help prompted by the tariff dispute, a farm bill that Congress approves every five years provides farmers with hundreds of millions in additional federal aid. The subsidies have remained relatively stable, with the latest farm bill approved in December. Most of the aid helps growers of the largest crops, including corn and soybeans. Farmers also benefit from billions of dollars annually in federal insurance subsidies.

It’s been six years since farmers did better than break even on corn, and five years since they made money off soybeans.

WATCH: US/China trade war causing turmoil in global financial markets





U.S. net farm income, a commonly used measure of profits, has plunged 45 per cent since a high of $123.4 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reflecting American farmers’ struggle to return to the profitability seen earlier in the decade. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings for farm operations in the upper Midwest have doubled since June 2014, when commodity prices began to drop. The hardest hit were farms and dairy operations in Wisconsin, a state that supported Democrats for president for most of recent history before backing Trump and that will be a fierce 2020 battleground.

“It’s awful expensive to put a crop in,” said Morie Hill, looking over countless green shoots peeking up from his fields in central Iowa. He isn’t sure why more farmers haven’t been forced out.

“Everyone I know is squeezing and doing everything they can, trying to go further with less,” he said.


READ MORE:
Canada and U.S. reach deal to drop steel, aluminum tariffs

Brent Renner, who farms with his father in northern Iowa, said while there’s strong support for Trump in their area, frustration is growing. Farming friends regularly check Twitter to see what Trump is saying, and how it might move the market.

“I don’t know how many farming friends I’ve had who’ve said ‘Why can’t someone just take his phone away?’” Renner said. “It’s impossible to think he hasn’t lost support at some level, but what that level is nobody knows.”

Patty Judge, a Democratic former Iowa lieutenant governor and state agriculture secretary, agreed people in Iowa haven’t rushed to move away from Trump. But she thinks voters will be ready for a change in 2020 — and a president who better understands the country’s role in international trade.

WATCH: Trade clashes cost U.S. and China billions in 2018





“It’s very important to us and to have gone into a trade war without a plan, without an exit strategy, is dangerous and wrong and I think Iowans are going to understand that before the next election,” she said.

The 2018 midterms showed Democrats’ difficulties outside metro areas. AP VoteCast, a national survey of more than 115,000 voters, found rural and small-town residents cast 35 per cent of midterm ballots; 56 per cent of those voted for Republican House candidates, compared with 41 per cent for Democrats. Among small-town and rural white voters the advantage was greater, tilting 63-35 for Republicans.

Jeshke said he gives Trump credit for rolling back regulations that have made it tougher and more expensive for new herbicides to be approved, and for his proposed changes to the Waters of the U.S., an Obama-era environmental measure. Under the act, Jeshke said he needed government approval to mow some areas of his property or make changes to manmade lakes where kids go fishing.

“And I dug them!” he said.


READ MORE:
Trump asks China to remove tariffs on U.S. agricultural products

Jeshke says most farmers are more concerned about getting the situation solved than pointing fingers. But if they were to place blame, most of it would be on China, and the rest would be on previous presidents who could have solved the trade imbalances more easily 15 or 20 years ago.

One thing he knows for sure about Trump: “If he rolls over now, we’ll never be able to hold them accountable.”

Renner says farmers are used to having things happen that aren’t in their control — the weather, for example — but find a way through. It’s a quality he says is clearly on display now.

“We’re an optimistic people,” he said. “We’ll keep our chins up and keep moving ahead.”



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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