As Arkansans, we know all about tough times and hard work. But right now our farmers, the backbone of this state, are being hurt by decisions made in Washington D.C. about tariffs and a trade war.
Farmers know all about uncertainty and having to manage the cards that are dealt us, whether it’s life, or weather. And a lot of the times we are just one flood, one drought, or one natural disaster away from a real crisis. We put our homes, our cars, our land, and many times everything our family owns up for mortgage, just to put a crop in every year, and just make enough money to support our families. With one bad crop, with one bad hailstorm, all of that could be lost.
That’s just the way it is on my farm in Woodruff County, and it’s that way it is for most of my neighbor’s too. We can’t begrudge it, it’s a way of life, it’s what you have to accept. It comes with the territory.
But in addition to all that, farmers are facing a man-made crisis, created by politicians in Washington D.C. The Farm Bureau has said that this trade war and these tariffs are creating a “slow disaster” for agriculture. To make matters worse our own U.S. Senator Tom Cotton has gone on national media to downplay the impact on Arkansas’s number one industry – agriculture.
Sen. Cotton said that the sacrifices that farmers make is nothing compared to the sacrifices that soldiers make. It’s true that there is no sacrifice greater than what our servicemen and women do for our country everyday. But to pit that sacrifice against the sacrifices our farm communities are making everyday was a political stunt, and frankly beneath the office that Sen. Cotton holds.
We need our U.S. Senator and frankly we need all our representatives in Washington to understand what is happening on the farms in Arkansas. Because when farms fail, local grocery stores, local auto parts stores, and coffee shops and cafes from Hope to Hoxie will feel the effect of it. We’re even seeing that big box stores like Walmart are feeling the effects of this trade war, saying that they’re gonna have to raise prices on all of their consumers because of it.
We’ve got to have good trade deals, and we’ve got to continue to be a leader on the world stage, but it doesn’t mean we get there on the backs of our farmers.
Agriculture is our number one industry, it is the backbone of our state, and it’s time for our leaders in Washington to act like they have a backbone. It’s time for them to act like they’re on Arkansas’s side.
Farm income is down, Arkansas’s economy is slowing, and China just announced that in retaliation its raising tariffs on $60 Billion worth of goods. That’s something that everyone of us will feel in our pockets at the end of the week.
We’ve got to get this turned around. We’ve got to support Arkansas farmers, and we have to remind those people that we send to Washington that Arkansas comes first. It’s not political ideology, it’s not quick soundbites to get on national television, it’s real lives and real families, and we need to stand up for them.
I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.