Ag Policy Blog

Trump, Biden Touch on Ag Issues in Midwest Battleground States

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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President Donald Trump has more support in rural America than former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the DTN/Progressive Farmer Zogby Analytics poll. Both candidates continue to stump in key Midwest battleground states in the final weekend of the race. (DTN image from file photos)

With three days left until Election Day arrives, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are making their closing arguments with repeated stops in key battleground states in the Midwest.

On Friday, both Biden and Trump stumped in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Biden was also in Iowa while Trump went to Michigan.

As DTN reported this week, Trump leads among farmers and rural voters, carrying an 18-point lead over Biden in the DTN/Progressive Farmer Zogby Analytics Election poll. Still, more farmers also believe that U.S. agriculture is worse off (39%) than better off (23%) than it was four years ago. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats said it's is worse off than four years ago. Republicans are more positive about the state of agriculture (40% think that it is better off than four years ago), as are Southerners (29% said it is better). But 17% are undecided.…

The two candidates also keep bringing up agricultural issues in the campaign speeches as well.

In Wisconsin, Trump said dairy farmers were "decimated under Obama" but now "are doing very well." Trump then touted the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), saying "our dairy exports are expected to surge by at least 100%."

"I ended the NAFTA nightmare and replaced it with the USMCA," Trump said. "With the USMCA, our dairy exports to Canada are expected to surge by 100%."

USMCA is projected to boost dairy exports to Canada by about $227 million, according to the International Trade Commission analysis, or about 43.8%. Total dairy imports from Canada also are expected to rise $161.7 million as well, the commission stated.

Overall, agricultural exports under USMCA are projected to increase by $2.2 billion over time, about 1.1%, of total U.S. agricultural exports, once the trade agreement is fully implemented.

Wisconsin has been losing dairy farmers for the past several years and reported record dairy farm closures in both 2018 and 2019. Wisconsin lost a record 818 dairy farms in 2019, roughly 10% of all dairy farms in the state, following 638 dairy farm closures in 2018, a 7.25% decline in herds. The 2018 decline was the largest since Wisconsin began keeping track in 2004, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Biden took aim at Trump's trade policies in Wisconsin. "My God, what a disaster he's been. Donald Trump's trade policy has decimated, devastated Wisconsin's dairy industry."

Biden also spoke in Iowa on Friday at an event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds where people parked in their cars to hear him speak. Biden pointed out "Ethanol margins have tanked and Iowa's manufacturing facilities are idle." Biden also criticized Trump for comments the president made saying the farmers were doing better because of trade aid than when they had to farm.

"He says because of his bailouts, our farmers are doing better now than when they actually had a farm. I'm going to read that again. Our farmers are actually doing better now than when they actually had a farm. Where's this guy from? Who does he think he is?"

Trump has repeated said on the campaign trail that he took $28 billion in money for tariffs and gave it to farmers, and repeatedly said farmers are better off now. In Omaha last Tuesday evening, he said. "Some people say our farmers do better now than when they actually had a farm."

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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