Ag Secretary Purdue jokes about farmers’ plight, farmers’ union chief says tariffs...

Ag Secretary Purdue jokes about farmers’ plight, farmers’ union chief says tariffs are causing long-term damage

Sonny Perdue, with his wife, Mary Ruff, is sworn in as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on April 25, 2017, at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.. (Official photo)

(AUDIO: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue jokes: “What do you call two farmers in a cellar? A whine cellar.”)

THE WHITE HOUSE – That was Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joking at Minnesota FarmFest earlier this month of farmers’ frequent complaints to him about the toll President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is taking on them.

Since China retaliated in July 2018 on Trump’s tariffs, soybean farmers have lost 80% of their exports to China. The American Farm Bureau reports that farm bankruptcy filings this year through June are up 13 percent from 2018 and that loan delinquency rates are rising.

Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmer’s Union, says:

(AUDIO: “This is causing long-term damage, not only to farmers, but rural communities.”)

After the Trump administration earmarked $18 billion in aid to offset the effects of the trade war, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) said:

(AUDIO: “Mr. Secretary, I’m rooting for you, the administration to be successful, but I’m not sure how much longer our farmers can wait. The trade assistance does not make them whole.”)

Secretary Perdue replied:

(AUDIO: “This administration is trying as hard as it can to level the playing field around the globe.”)

Wertish counters that:

(AUDIO: “Farmers were having a hard time before; now it has gotten worse.”)

And Perdue says:

(AUDIO: “We want to have some talks, but you can’t deal with a nation that cheats and steals.”)

Wertish tells TMN:

(AUDIO: “This is not a game. Listen, these are people’s lives.”)

He goes on to say that “when we claim we are winning and people are losing their farms, it is infuriating.”

Doug Christian, The White House

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