Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action Memo: Trump Addresses Farm Bureau After String of Broken Promises to Farmers
Press Release

CAP Action Memo: Trump Addresses Farm Bureau After String of Broken Promises to Farmers

Washington, D.C. — As farmers across the country bear the brunt of the president’s broken promises and erratic trade policies, Donald Trump will speak at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Austin, Texas, this weekend. In 2016, Trump guaranteed that he would “grow the farms” and “negotiate trade deals to help our farmers, help them export their goods, and make money doing it.” Here’s the reality three years into this administration:

  • Agricultural states have seen dramatic increases in farm bankruptcies. “Breadbasket states” in the 7th and 8th federal circuits—including Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, among others—saw a 52 percent increase in Chapter 12 bankruptcies since the beginning of Trump’s presidency. Nationally, farm bankruptcies have reached their highest levels since 2011. Texas alone saw a 73 percent increase over the same time period. When the final figures for 2019 are released, these numbers will likely increase. 
  • $8.4 billion in farm profits were lost due to the Trump administration’s erratic trade policies. As a result, net farm income in 2018 was down 16 percent from the previous year. The program meant to provide relief to the most affected farmers has largely ignored small and minority-owned farms. 
  • Farm debt is soaring. It has increased by nearly one-third since 2013, reaching levels last seen during the U.S. farm crisis of the 1980s.
  • In November, Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he wasn’t sure if small farms could survive the trade war. He added, “This is not a time for growth.” 
  • Most farmers haven’t seen a penny of federal relief, while multinational corporations are bailed out. According to data retrieved by the Environmental Working Group, the top 1 percent of farm bailout recipients received an average of $183,331 for 2018-2019, while the bottom 80 percent received an average of less than $5,000. Brazilian meat-packer JBS alone received a bailout of $78 million from the Trump administration.
  • Farmer protections rolled back. The Trump administration scaled back key protections for farmers against unfair, deceptive, and extractive production contracts. The revocation of the 2010 Farmer Fair Practices Rules leaves contract poultry and livestock farmers vulnerable to contract terms with unfair pricing mechanisms by rolling back their ability to bring lawsuits against the powerful corporations with whom they do business.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund has launched a social media campaign to educate Americans on the costs of the administration’s farm policies, telling the stories of farmers hit hard by Trump’s broken promises. The campaign is featuring videos with farmers such as Jerry Volenec, a fifth-generation dairy farmer, who recently said, “With the Donald Trump presidency, the focus isn’t family farmers, it’s the corporate interests.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at [email protected] or 202-796-9712.