The Walton Family Foundation issued a report today illustrating what everybody already knew — China retaliatory tariffs on U.S. crops hit the country’s mid-section, Trump electoral vote country, hard.

Coastal states feel it less because they aren’t comparable producers of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat. The Walton researcher concludes there’s a method in the Chinese mad-on:


“China clearly chose strategically to target these crops for retaliatory tariffs to impart the greatest economic damages to President Trump’s base of supporters,” said Ross DeVol, a Fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. “China’s tariff increases on U.S. crops will be felt in the Heartland to a higher degree than anywhere else.”

This theme has been sounded many times before, such as here.

Worth noting: employment in agriculture has dropped dramatically thanks to mechanization and consolidation of farms. So, while some farmers could take some big licks (and they undoubtedly WERE mostly Trump supporters) the impact in Arkansas’s rural farm counties might be large in dollars for corporate farmers, but not so large in direct employee impact (though, of course, there will be some). It’s not the same, for example, as a tariff that could force shutdown of an auto assembly plant with thousands of well-paying jobs, something feared in several states. These are bad consequences of bad policy either way. The notion that Trump supporters might hold him responsible for his actions remains far-fetched, no matter how much science is devoted to the study of it.


PS: Also consider how multinational corporations which operate in the U.S. and elsewhere are able to adjust business to beat the system.

With operations across the globe, multibillion-dollar conglomerates including Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge are easily able to chart the path of least resistance: Buy low in one place, sell high in another. ADM said in July that profits doubled last quarter, largely on the strength of its grain-trading business. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I sort of think this tariff is good for you,” a Morgan Stanley analyst told company executives on their quarterly earnings call. They didn’t correct him.

The same is true of Cargill, whose grain-trading segment last month posted its strongest spring quarter in seven years. “If you’re one of these big grain companies, you can make a pretty profit just by redirecting trade,” a senior TS Lombard economist told us.