Former President Donald Trump spent Sunday afternoon in southern Iowa with a rally in Ottumwa and visiting farmers in the area as he touted his support among farmers.
While farm income is stronger now than during his four years in office, Trump said any benefits farmers have seen under President Joe Biden come "off the fuse of what we did," as he cited trade negotiations with China, Japan, South Korea and other countries under his presidency.
"I said you only have to do one thing: buy more land and buy bigger tractors," Trump said, according to a Bloomberg report. "You never did better than under me."
After speaking at a rally, Trump visited a farm near Leighton, Iowa, where he signed the farmer's John Deere combine. "Do you think Biden can do that? I don't," he said as farmers around him applauded.
Trump carries an overwhelming lead among GOP voters. The four state and federal indictments Trump faces have even strengthened his base less than four months before the Iowa Caucuses, the first step in the Republican nomination.
Talking about his work for agriculture and reducing regulations, Trump said, "I had a lot of farmers come in from Iowa, a lot of builders coming in from all over the country, and they were crying, many of them were crying, people that never cried before," he said.
While his trade war with China sank exports in 2018-19, Trump ordered then-Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) to provide $23 billion in payments to farmers in that two-year stretch. Trump repeats he paid farmers $28 billion and it came from tariffs placed on Chinese imports.
"I took on Communist China like no administration in history, bringing hundreds of billions of dollars pouring into our Treasury when no other president had gotten ten cents," Trump said in the rally. He added, "I think gave the farmers $28 billion straight out of the tariffs that I took out of China. Think about that. Do you think Joe Biden would have even thought about giving you $28 billion?"
Trump said the money he gave farmers has locked up Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and other farm states.
While Trump's trade war cost producers income at the time, China has been the top importer of U.S. farm commodities since 2020. At the moment, farm exports to China have slowed compared to this time a year ago.
Biden has provided farmers with $23 billion under different terms than Trump. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack created the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities with $3.1 billion from the CCC to pay for conservation practices that sequester carbon or reduce emissions. The Inflation Reduction Act last year stacked $19.5 billion in USDA's conservation programs for similar strategies.
Trump added in his speech he will rollback regulations on agriculture. He also criticized the high prices of fertilizer under Biden and said he would examine that issue.
"I will remain the champion of American farmers with four more years in the White House.
"Within hours of my inauguration, I will cancel every Biden policy that is brutalizing our farmers," Trump said. He added, "I will appoint a special team to attack the high price of fertilizer and get the price way down because that price is very, very high."
Anhydrous fertilizer prices are up 21% in the last month, according to DTN Fertilizer Trends, but the price of anhydrous now is down nearly 45% from a year ago.
Trump also touted his support for ethanol. Under his presidency he signed an order allowing year-round E15, though that rule was later thrown out in court.
"I fought for ethanol like no president in history," Trump said, according to the Des Moines Register.
A poll by the Register in late August showed rump carrying more than a 2-to-1 lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis while other GOP candidates trailed farther behind. Trump also attacked former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley – who Trump appointed – calling her a "birdbrain." Trump's campaign then sent Haley a birdcage and bird food to her hotel. Haley had performed well in last week's GOP debate, which Trump did not attend.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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