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Wisconsin governor helps dairy farmers hurt by Trump

Gov. Tony Evers signed executive orders aimed at helping farmers and rural communities throughout the state who have suffered as a result of Trump’s long-running trade war with China.

By Dan Desai Martin - January 27, 2020
Wisconsin Dairy Farms, Tony Evers

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released a plan last week to help farmers facing hardship from Donald Trump’s trade war with China.

Evers specifically pledged to help three key constituencies in the state: farmers, the agricultural industry, and rural communities.

In 2019, Wisconsin lost a record number of dairies, as 818 shut their doors for the last time. Dairies first saw trouble in 2018 when Trump initiated a months-long trade war with China. Due to retaliatory tariffs, U.S. dairy exports to China plunged by more than 50% in 2019, according to CNBC.

Evers, a Democrat who ousted incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November 2018, said in a statement about the plan that he wanted farmers and those in rural communities to know that “nobody carries the burden alone.”

In an executive order, Evers announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity, which will bolster economic prosperity and promote the state’s agriculture.

In addition to the commission, Evers is calling on the Wisconsin Legislature to meet in a special session at the end of January to consider a series of bills aimed at economically helping rural communities.

Evers is encouraging legislators to pass a package of legislation that would create a Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports; improve mental health support in rural communities; and bolster the ability of Wisconsin farmers to connect to local communities, including universities and hospitals.

“We’re known as America’s Dairyland,” Evers said in the same statement, “but unfortunately, as too many families across our state know firsthand, our state continues to face challenges that we must work quickly to address.”

The Wisconsin Democratic Party praised Evers’ efforts on Friday while calling out the damage caused by Trump’s trade war.

“Thanks to years of GOP inaction and President Trump’s reckless trade war, Wisconsin leads the nation in farm bankruptcies and sees two dairy farms close down every day,” Courtney Beyer, communications director for the party, said in an email. “… Gov. Evers is leading the way to support our state’s farmers and rural communities and protect our identity as America’s Dairyland through his three-prong plan to tackle Wisconsin’s dairy crisis.”

While Wisconsin has been hit hard by Trump’s policies, other states throughout the Midwest have suffered as well. A 2019 analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found a 45% increase in farm bankruptcies across the Midwest since Trump initiated a trade war with China.

On Jan. 15, 2020, Trump signed a trade deal with China, but many of the tariffs remain in place for the time being, according to NPR, and experts are skeptical that the changes will be implemented in time to stave off additional damage to the agriculture industry.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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