New Op-ed: The media’s imaginary Trump-hating farmer
The media's imaginary Trump-hating farmer
The media's never-ending hunt to take down President Trump has them roaming the countryside.
Farmers voted in overwhelming numbers for President Trump in 2016. But we are told they have turned against him, or will soon turn, or are thinking about making a U-turn on a farm road, or something like that depending on which story you read.
The problem is, the reporters can't find a farmer to say anything that matches their pre-written headlines.
The media told us China's sanctions on American agricultural products would turn rural America against Trump, just as Beijing hoped they would.
But that didn't happen. "The farmer plays the long game," Randy Miller, who grows soybeans and corn and raises pigs in Iowa, told the Associated Press. "I look at my job through my son, my grandkids. So am I willing to suffer today to get this done to where I think it will be better for them? Yes."
Unlike the media, farmers understand the confrontation with China is about more than today's price for soybeans or pork bellies.
Having struck out after rooting for China in its bid to split farmers from Trump, the media now tell us ethanol will dissolve the bond. Wrong again.
Consider this dishonest headline from NBC News: "'Your EPA Went Too Far': Farmers Hit Hard By Trump EPA's New Ethanol Rules Are Fuming."
But the story reveals – nine paragraphs down! – it isn't a farmer who says the EPA went too far, it's the CEO of Green Plains Inc, the nations' fourth-largest ethanol producer, operating 13 plants that turn out 1.1 billion gallons of corn-ethanol a year.
Green Plains Inc describes itself as the "leading vertically integrated ethanol producer." In addition to producing corn-ethanol, it makes animal feed, owns the fourth-largest feedlot in the U.S., grain storage facilities and an in-house trading desk that specializes in arbitrage and "exchange-traded futures and options contracts designed to serve as economic hedges." And to cover all the bases, it's involved in owning, operating and acquiring "fuel storage tanks, terminals, transportation assets and other related assets and businesses."
Green Plains is many things, but it is not a farmer. Big Ethanol likes to put on bib overalls and pretend, but there's a big difference between farmers who grow corn and the vertically integrated processors and traders such as ADM, Cargill and Green Plains who buy it, process it and trade it.
Processors' business and interests are more aligned with Wall Street than with farmers.
In fact, farmers have historically seen processors – the traders, meat packers and shippers – as their enemy.
This report by Reuters from 2013 illustrates how Big Ethanol has different interests than farmers: "U.S. ethanol margins are improving amid a 40 percent drop in corn prices, or $3 a bushel, from a year ago when ethanol makers struggled to secure feedstocks."
In 2012, corn sold for $7 a bushel. In 2013, it sold for $4, and ethanol producers saw their profit margins increase. Cheap corn was great for Big Ethanol, not so great for Old McDonald.
It's the same story as meat packers who import cheap cattle from Mexico rather than buying from American ranchers.
Ethanol producers want cheap inputs on the one hand and guaranteed markets (government mandates) on the other since they made bad decisions and overbuilt capacity.
Processors understandably want to masquerade as farmers, but it's malpractice for reporters to play along.
President Trump is the real champion of the farmer.
He is standing up to China whose goal is control over the global market for agricultural commodities. Farmers and ranchers do not want to be tenants on land owned by China, buying seed, chemicals and tractors from China, and selling their crops to marketing companies owned by China at prices set by China's Communist bosses.
President Trump is distributing billions of dollars from tariffs on China to the farmers Beijing is targeting with its sanctions.
President Trump struck a trade deal with Japan, opening up new markets for American agricultural products, including beef, pork, wheat, dairy products, wine and, yes, ethanol.
President Trump is allowing the year-round sale of 15 percent ethanol-blended gasoline – something no president did – which maintains domestic demand for corn ethanol.
And by exempting small refiners from onerous EPA mandates as the law allows, he preserves America's energy independence, lower prices for consumers and tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.
Now the media just have to find a farmer who says they prefer what Democrats are promising: More regulation under the Green New Deal, with Washington bureaucrats who never set foot on a farm telling farmers and ranchers what to grow and how and where to grow it.
Good luck with that.
-Curtis Ellis is Senior Policy Director for America First Policies.