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Forecast for Trump Trade Talks: More Snow, Maybe Ice

      If what we’re seeing now is the Trump trade “strategy”—cram trade talks between the U.S. and China, the U.S. and Japan, and the U.S. and European Union (E.U.) into an ever-tightening window—export-dependent American farmers and ranchers are in serious trouble for several reasons.

      The first reason is the relentless calendar. Trade talks require years […]

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Sonny Warned ‘Em–Twice, In Fact

It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
A more accurate, less generous view of President Donald J. Trump’s trade policy would declare it an unhinged mess that has led to a dark, […]

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The Road to Perdition Always Leads South

If war is hell, then trade wars must be a purgatorial stop along the way. For proof, just look where Election Day 2018 finds American farmers.
Faced with ample production, stale commodity prices, and the lowest forecasted national farm income since 2002, U.S. farmers are now waiting for a winter of government “tariff mitigation” payments while […]

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High Stakes and Bad Bets

On Oct. 1, U.S. farmers and ranchers joined President Donald J. Trump to praise one of his Administration’s biggest international achievements, a reworked trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Ironically, however, Oct. 1 also brought a massive domestic failure: the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill. The president and his revelers, however, never mentioned […]

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Sometimes You Get What You Vote For

Farmers and ranchers spent most of last month hoping the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent crop estimates would be proven wrong and President Donald J. Trump’s “plan” to fix “the world’s worst trade deals ever” would be proven right.
September, however, disappointed them on both counts.
On Sept. 12, USDA reported that the already big 2018 […]

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The Carrot, The Stick, and You

The Trump Administration’s good cop/bad cop approach to U.S. trade policy was on full display Aug. 27 when President Donald J. Trump, the bad cop that day, announced a very incomplete NAFTA trade deal—fueled by his heavy use of tariffs—that pointedly excluded Canada.
(NAFTA, or Nafta, is the North American Free Trade Agreement now under renegotiation […]

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Checkbooks, Guns, and Baloney

The day U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the White House plan to spread $12 billion of taxpayer salve on its festering tariff wound, November soybean futures ended their day completely unimpressed—down a sleepy 2.5 cents.
Farmers echoed the market reaction; they, too, were unimpressed with the bailout. “Trade, not aid,” was their polite, but […]

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When Trump Starts Tweeting, Sonny Starts Packing

      Prince Edward Island, caressed in eastern Canada’s provincial arms of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, is a lovely place to visit in June. Its sparkling red sand beaches, miles of white-blossomed potato fields, and rolling carpets of lush pasture form a color-soaked postcard for tourists and locals alike.
      U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue caught a […]

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America Alone

This morning’s softly falling snow and below freezing temperature make it evident that winter’s early end, suggested by two muddy, 50-degree days last week, was just a rumor. The season’s hard evidence—frozen ground, frozen lake, frozen me—is back and will remain so, predicts the National Weather Service, well into February.
Frozen, also, are federal budget fights, […]

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Mojo Working

The knuckle-cracking cold that accompanied most of the country out of 2017 also followed most of us into 2018. Worse, it didn’t come alone. Much of last year’s bad mojo—the crazy weather, its bitter politics, policy gridlock—also crossed December’s ice bridge into the new year.
For example, President Donald Trump’s closed-fisted trade negotiating style reappeared Jan. […]

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