Farm Bureau head says to give Trump's policies time

Jeffrey Missling's comments come less than a month after Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan coalition against tariffs, announced its campaign "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland."   File photo

A farming coalition's campaign to call attention to the pain farmers are suffering in the Donald Trump administration's ongoing trade war probably won't do much good, the head of a North Dakota agricultural advocacy group said during a recent interview.  

Instead of joining "rallies or protests or campaigns," farmers and ranchers need to give the Trump administration something that some feel they don't have much of -- time and patience -- North Dakota Farm Bureau Executive Vice President and CEO Jeffrey Missling said during a North Dakota Business Daily email interview. "President Trump appears to be a man of action and follow through."

Missling believes the president sincerely wants to create better opportunities for all Americans. 

"And better trade deals are just one piece of the equation," Missling said. "I think President Trump needs time to finalize some of these deals, so we can see if he succeeded or failed."

Jeffrey Missling is executive vice president and CEO of the North Dakota Farm Bureau.   Contributed photo

The way forward will be much clearer once the Trump administration succeeds or fails to reach trade deals, Missling said. 

"If his administration succeeds, we all succeed," Missling said. "And if his administration fails, I'm confident the American people will have a say at the ballot box. But to judge the whole situation at this point is prejudicial. It is far too early."

Missling's comments come less than a month after Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan coalition against tariffs, announced its campaign "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland." The campaign is a multi-million dollar campaign to highlight the widespread economic pain the trade war is causing Middle America, particularly American farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers. 

"As fourth-generation corn and soybean farmers, our family understands what's needed for American agriculture to continue to flourish - and it's not bailouts," Scott Henry, a partner with LongView Farms in Iowa, told North Dakota Business Daily. "We thought it was necessary to start a campaign like 'Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,' because it didn’t feel like the president could hear us. Clear, consistent policy that respects exports and international trade is the best thing for our work."

Henry's family has been in the business long enough for him to know what he's talking about. 

"I'm a fourth-generation farmer at LongView Farms, and as our name implies, we take the 'long view' when it comes to the business of agriculture," he said in his separate comments. "Policy interference and restricted market access are two surefire ways to hamper innovation and long-term growth. I've joined the 'Tariffs Hurt the Heartland' campaign, because we clearly need a new way to get through to the president, so he hears our message loud and clear: tariffs hurt us. Clear the path for trade of homegrown agricultural products, and we’ll succeed."

Missling, during his interview with North Dakota Business Daily, said he didn't believe the Farmers For Free Trade campaign would have much impact. 

"Personally, I have never been a believer in rallies or protests or campaigns like this," he said. "Rarely does it ever help to complain or jump up and down. The real work gets done at the White House. Getting involved in organizations that help advocate for you and reaching out to your elected officials – those are the things that are going to make a difference. My hunch is this campaign will not move the Trump Administration off its plan to negotiate better trade deals for our country."

And the farmers and ranchers he talks to don't feel a need for the $12 billion aid package that the Trump administration announced at about the same time that Farmers For Free Trade announced its campaign, Missling said. 

"Nearly every farmer/rancher I visit with thinks the $12 billion in aid is unnecessary," he said. "They want to make their money from the market, not the government. The aid shows the administration is concerned about the impacts on agriculture, but making fair deals is what needs to happen.  And that falls in line perfectly with Farm Bureau policy -- our organization wants less government involvement in our industry, not more. Because we are American farmers and ranchers; We are the best of the best. We can compete with anyone if given a fair playing field."

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