Rural voters are second-guessing their support as Donald Trump's absence in trade negotiations continues to harm their interests.
Donald Trump supporters in rural North Carolina are "scared to death," because of Trump's erratic behavior on international trade.
It began very early, when Trump made the brash move, with next to no consultation, to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. By doing so just three days after his inauguration, Trump unilaterally gave up any leverage he may have had to influence the processes involved.
And as Politico reports, the move had a disquieting and damaging impact almost immediately, in areas of the country that had given Trump strong support.
Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, said that the livestock industry was expecting strong growth ahead.
But following Trump's decision, Hayes noted that any hope of growth for the livestock industry "has pretty much disappeared."
And in further harmful consequences, other countries are capitalizing on Trump's decision, moving forward with trade deals that put American farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
After all, just because the Trump administration came in unprepared doesn't mean that the rest of the world will wait for his staff to find the light switches.
"Our experience is wherever a vacuum is created, it’s filled very, very quickly," New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said in an interview.
To his supporters, this feels like nothing less than betrayal. As Jerry Maier, an Iowa corn and soybean farmer, put it, "If you’re at the table and nothing happens, that’s one thing. But if you aren’t even at that table, that’s frustrating."
And as Iowa hog farmer Grant Woodley noted:
"Creating instability is not good business practice when there are fierce and competitive producers around the world," he said. "Stability and predictability are tremendous to me as I seek out business partnerships, so why would it be any different for any other country we work with?"
On the campaign trail, Trump promised “beautiful” trade deals. His promises lacked details then, and still "his administration has yet to lay out a detailed strategy."
In essence: "He fooled a lot of people," said Sandy McGrath, mayor of Eagle Grove, Iowa.
They are right that he pulled the wool over their eyes.
And worse yet, because of Trump's decision, they won't even be able to get a good price for that wool.