DECORAH, Iowa -- There’s a mid-winter tranquility to the 2,500 acres of Bob Hemesath’s farm in Decorah, Iowa, but across the snowy landscape you can hear some early misgivings about the president’s decision to re-negotiate or withdraw from big trade deals.
That’s because one out of every three acres of corn he grows is exported.
One out of every five jobs in his state is dependent on trade. So when the president talks of renegotiating trade deals or dropping out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership entirely as he did this week, Iowa farmers get worried.
“It was a big market for agriculture and would have been a huge benefit for agriculture,” Hemesath said.
For the individual farmer, “it’s going to be more difficult to make a profit without having it,” he said.
The TPP would have removed trade barriers and, according to supporters, would have added more than $4 billion annually from U.S. exports.
But critics said it would lower wages, cost jobs and reduce American influence by putting it on the same footing with weaker economies. They say bi-lateral deals are better for America.
Hemesath voted for the president and still supports him, but wishes farmers had been more persuasive.
What would he tell Mr. Trump now?
“That our economy benefits from trade and that he needs to look at it from a global economic standpoint,” he said.
The farmers here say they are willing to give the president a chance to negotiate better deals. And the president did say Thursday, “believe me, we’re going to have a lot of trade deals.”