With a new scandal dominating the news cycle every day during the Trump administration. it’s often easy to forget that the destructive effects of the president’s policies continue on even after the disaster du jour fades from the headlines.
The damage caused by President Trump’s disastrous trade war and tariff policies occasionally breaks through to get noticed by the media when a company like Harley Davidson announces it’s shifting more production overseas or when factory layoffs and plant closures are disclosed — all victims of a Trump administration more concerned with scoring political points than with sound economic policy.
Now a Republican Governor from a deep-red state is declaring that Trump’s trade wars are devastating her state’s economy and calling for the president to put an end to the disputes as soon as possible.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) presides over a state economy that is vastly dominated by the agricultural sector which also majorly affects the majority of other ancillary businesses in the state.
“South Dakota has been devastated by the trade wars that are going on,” Governor Noem told attendees at Politico’s State Solutions Conference, before reminding the crowd that the slump in the agricultural sector impacts “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.”
Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump threw down the gauntlet with America’s largest trade partners, initiating a renegotiation of NAFTA and slapping tariffs on trade partners like China and the European Union that he viewed as taking advantage of the former U.S. trade policies.
“The problem is that this has gone on now for a long period of time,” she said. “And farmers are used to risk, they’re used to prices going up and down and having that, but this sustained low commodity prices, frankly, is driving a lot of family businesses out of business. That is why we need to have some serious consideration for wrapping this up quickly.”
The result has been the imposition of retaliatory tariffs that have left U.S. farmers with stores of unsold soybeans and other crops that have been priced out of the market compared to farmers in other major agricultural nations like Brazil.
Noem’s tried to leaven her criticism of Trump’s radical trade agenda by acknowledging that China has engaged in less than fair trade practices, but nonetheless felt compelled to call for an end to the disputes that are bankrupting her state’s farm-based economy.
“I have consistently been an advocate for wrapping up these trade discussions and making sure we’re getting access to better markets,” she said at the conference today, adding that “I think the administration wants to do this, we have been treated unfairly in the past, and they recognize that and want to have better trade agreements.”
With Trump planning to raise the punishing tariffs to even higher levels if a trade agreement is not reached by the end of next week, South Dakota’s farmers may see things get worse before they get any better.
You know, however, that when a Republican governor feels strongly enough about an issue to feel free to criticize the Trump administration trade policies, that the president’s base is starting to feel the pain and his support is beginning to be threatened.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Caitlin Oprysko at Politico.