Bill Tenneger has been farming for 50 years, raising pigs on his northwest Iowa farm before shipping them off to packers in the state, and then to the rest of the world.
So it is with a bit of historical perspective that Tenneger says his industry is struggling as a result of the trade war Donald Trump has been waging for nearly a year and a half – even if many among Iowa’s agriculture and livestock industry aren’t ready to give up on a president who has largely thrown the script out the window, and made a trade war with China a key focus of his tenure.
“We’re struggling. Margins have been extremely tight for well over a year,” Tenneger says, sitting in the dining area of the pork tent at the Iowa State Fair. He said farmers are losing around $8 a head per pig, or around 6 per cent.
Near Tenneger, a line stretches around the perimeter and into the fairway of the sprawling fairgrounds. Inside a fence stood massive grills, where presidential candidates hoping to unseat Trump stop by to flip some meat – with cameras flashing, of course.
The Iowa farmer’s mind is elsewhere, however – in Washington, where a president known to turn markets on their heads through tweets seemingly sent at a whim; and in China, where a devastating outbreak of the African swine flu has been roiling pork markets for at least a year.