Let me begin with a quote from the end of the article:
“A lack of payments [from the U.S. government] could eventually force farmers to sell crops to generate cash flow.”
I thought that is what farmers do: sell crops to generate cash flow. Now, the problem may be that export prices for U.S. agricultural products destined for China are forced lower due to the trade war.
Q1: Why can’t these farmers sell their products elsewhere?
A1: Possible answer: We can’t assume that demand generated from China’s population of 1.386 billion people can be easily found elsewhere on the planet in short order.
Q2: Why don’t farmers switch to different crops and sell to other countries demanding these different crops?
A2: Possible answer: I am not a farmer. I can’t even keep a house plant alive. Believe me, I have tried over and over again. So the following is conjecture. Switching crops takes time and money. Couple that with the possibility that unmet demand for these “other” crops may not exist. That is, there may not be significant demand for these other crops to justify the switching cost.
Q3: Did our trade-war mongering administration, including those that voted for this administration, consider the economic ramifications of this trade war on China?
A3: I don’t know. Judging by the hastily put together farm payout, which some consider a bribe for more votes, it sure doesn’t seem like it.
Q4: Japan sure makes nice cars. Are we going to come up with a reason to initiate a trade war with Japan because they continue to sell sedans here in the U.S. while companies like Ford stop producing due to unprofitably?
A4: That seems tough to me. We can’t say Japan’s government gives Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Mazda (we can even reach over to South Korea with Hyundai and Kia or Germany with Mercedes and BMW, or any other country for that matter) an unfair advantage by allowing them to destroy the environment and underpay labor.
But who knows, we humans suffer from self-attribution: when we do well it is due to our greatness, when we don’t do well we blame someone else. Ford’s inability to produce sedans profitably relative to the Japanese couldn’t be due to Japanese corporations adopting the quality control teachings of American W. Edwards Deming faster than American companies (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming).
Or could it?
Update: a bit ironic that the Trump shutdown is due to funding demands for an infeasible and ineffective wall for “border security.” It seems that if a mythical effective wall were constructed and the border is “secured,” which is code for “ban Mexicans and other Latin Americans,” that farmers would have difficulty finding low cost labor to carry out any switching plan. Maybe the funding should be used to help non-criminals attain legal working status here (read: help American farmers) and to help law enforcement weed out criminals. BTW, “criminal” is nationality agnostic. Or maybe invest those funds in education or something here instead .
Farmers Are Worried About Their Aid Payments in Trump Shutdown