DES MOINES, Iowa (NewsNation Now) — The oldest political demographic in America just may be the farmer, and in Iowa, a pandemic, a trade war and devastating weather have made this election year a particularly difficult time for these resilient folks.
“Livestock’s gotta be fed, crops have got to be planted; people don’t eat if we don’t get up and work every day,” said farmer Randy Miller.
Miller farms land near Lacona, Iowa. It’s the middle of the October harvest in a year that has yielded as much uncertainty as it has soybeans, but Miller sees the light in yet another sunset.
“There’s some optimism now with China coming back to the table, buying soybeans again, demands up a little bit the price is up so it’s better, but it is it has been stressful,” he said.
90 miles to the north, in McCallsburg, pork farmer Howard Hill feels the same stress.
“As I’ve told all my friends I can’t wait for 2020 to be over,” Hill said.
However, 2020 won’t end without a presidential election and these farmers know this.
“Politics right now is on everybody’s mind,” Hill said. “You can’t turn on the TV without seeing a hundred political ads.”
Those politics matter out here where Hill said farmers just want to farm, and farm fairly.
“Pork producers understood especially with China that there were some things going on there that weren’t appropriate, so I think that the administration for the most part had the support of pork producers, just hoped that it didn’t last as long as it did,” Hill said.
Gene Lucht writes for Iowa Farmer Today and says that the farm vote is still largely Republican.
“The president sees farmers as part of his base and trade definitely hurt him in farm country cause it severely hurt farmers,” Lucht said.
Lucht notes that President Donald Trump has taken action to keep the farmers in his good graces.
“He’s tried to offset that with some pretty large direct payments to farmers. He’s done the same with COVID trying to send payments to farmers to offset the losses COVID clearly caused,” Lucht said.
Payments from the government aren’t what Miller wants for his soybeans.
“We would just as soon sell our product at a profitable level than worry about whether the government is going to step in, that we would through another cycle,” Miller said.
“I would say to any presidential candidate or any president: What we want is free trade and fair trade. We think we compete with anybody in the world in our row crop production with our livestock production and we advocate for a free market and a fair market,” Hill said.
They see a lot of candidates in Iowa, but they keep their eyes on their fields and Miller said no matter what the result, the challenges for farmers won’t disappear in November.
“From the soybean standpoint we’re focused on the issues that are affecting us and affecting our farmers today more than the candidates and what’s going on in Washington,” Miller said. “We are trying to stay engaged on the issues because they are going to be there after the election.”
“In ag, we all know that we have ups and downs,” Hill said. “We don’t have you have years that may not even be profitable you just hope you can survive and live another day another year.”
In this case, another Election Day in another election year.