ALFA’s Walker on tariffs: Alabama farmers accepting ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’ — ‘We’re farmers, but first and foremost we’re Americans’
The sector of the economy perhaps hit the hardest by President Donald Trump’s tough tack on trade, in particular, with China, has been agriculture. Alabama is no exception to that reality.
However, according to Alabama Farmers Federation national affairs director Mitt Walker, that is something most Alabama farmers are willing to accept if that stance on trade means a better outcome for the country.
During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday, Walker explained how despite hardships, farmers continue to support Trump throughout the dispute.
“I think here in Alabama, that’s absolutely the case,” Walker said. “I will say that some of the states, particularly in the Midwest that may not be quite as red as Alabama, frankly, but also do depend on export markets maybe more so than even we do – I think some of that support may be starting to level off. But in Alabama, in particular, every farmer that I’ve talked with, and you know I’ve been from Cullman to Dothan this week visiting with different farmers on different things we have going on – universally, they will tell you, you know, we know it’s causing us some stress. It’s certainly impacting our markets. But in the long run, they do believe that we’re going to get to a place where we’ve got a long-term agreement. The expression I hear quite often is ‘short-term pain for long-term gain.’ That’s what I hope.”
“I’ll share something one of our members in Morgan County shared with me this week and I’ll kind of paraphrase his statement, but we were talking a lot about what’s going on with trade,” he continued. “And he said, ‘Mitt, at the end of the day we’re farmers. But first and foremost, we’re Americans. And we’re hoping that this ends up working to the advantage of all of the American people.’ And so, that’s kind of the mindset that our farmers have. They have stayed hitched. They continue to be supportive, and we just hope again that we don’t have to hold on much longer before we see some resolution.”
Walker said Alabama’s top three commodities produced for export have traditionally been broilers (poultry), cotton and soybeans.
“They’re typically going to be three of the top five year in and year out,” he added. “A lot of cotton is exported overseas – not just to China, but to other countries around the world. They’re manufactured into clothing and sent back here. We hear a lot about soybeans in the national media, but certainly cotton has taken a blow here in Alabama. Poultry is not something we typically send to China, but cotton is one of those that has been impacted here.”