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Trump Visits SD as Trade War Continues

A scheduled visit by President Donald Trump to South Dakota on Friday will be the first since he announced his bid for the presidency. (Ricki Hoffarth/
A scheduled visit by President Donald Trump to South Dakota on Friday will be the first since he announced his bid for the presidency. (Ricki Hoffarth/
September 6, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – President Donald Trump makes a visit to South Dakota this week as the first payments begin for commodity producers hurt by an ongoing trade war.

The Market Facilitation Program allows producers of soybeans, wheat, corn, sorghum, cotton, pork and dairy to receive money from a $12 billion federal trade compensation package.

Joseph Santos, an economics professor at South Dakota State University, says commodity producers are especially hurt by trade disputes because they come after years of already low prices for grain.

"It's a tough time to have this happen to them,” he states. “It's not a tough time for the aggregate economy, for the macro-economy, but it's a tough time for commodity producers, not that this would ever be good, but you don't want it right now."

Details about the president's visit to South Dakota have been sparse so far, but he will be stumping for the state's GOP governor candidate at a fundraiser.

It's not known if he will hold a public rally where he could address agricultural issues or the trade compensation package.

Last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that soybean farmers will receive $3.6 billion through the federal program.

But some growers say it's a Band-Aid that won't begin to cover their losses.

Santos expects prices for commodities such as soybeans to fall dramatically with tariffs. He says free trade means transactions, more economic activity, innovation and competition.

And while the administration's long-term aggressive approach to even out the trade balance makes sense, right now it's just a tax causing less trade.

"You know, we're imposing these tariffs everywhere in very blunt ways, disrupting markets all over the world simultaneously, and that's a tough, multi-layer chess game to keep track of," he states.

Distribution of the aid package to producers begins as Congress debates the Farm Bill, set to expire on Sept. 30.

A conference committee held its first negotiations on Wednesday, acknowledging that the biggest sticking point between the competing House and Senate bills is over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often called food stamps.

Trump has said he favors a bill that includes tougher work requirements for SNAP recipients.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD