Entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says the interests of the American farmer have been forgotten. The latest trade numbers might just make that case.
The 37-year-old Ramaswamy, who launched his campaign last week, joined The Iowa Star Managing Editor M.D. Kittle Monday on NewsTalk 1040 WHO.
“Farmers’ interests across this country have been forgotten,” said the candidate, who spent two days campaigning in Iowa last week. “One of the things we need to do in this country is bring back the focus on trade … The continuing sense of not just Iowa, the country, America’s agricultural industry depends on strong trade, and I think that we need to make sure those Iowa farmers — and across the Midwest — have strong markets and export opportunities.”
U.S. farmers have seen their 50-year positive trade balances contract of late. President Joe Biden’s Department of Agriculture forecasts the U.S. will run a record $14.5 billion deficit in ag trade this fiscal year.
In its quarterly report, USDA projected U.S. agricultural imports for the 2023 fiscal year at $184.5 billion, down $5.5 billion from its November forecast.
“The negative trade balance of a record $14.5 billion projected today is disappointing to see, but unfortunately not surprising given the lack of attention the Biden administration has placed on trade,” said U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “Our farmers and ranchers need the administration to actively engage and aggressively advocate for them on the world stage.”
Congress is working on the latest iteration of the five-year farm bill, with the current spending bill set to expire at the end of September. Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Trade will be a big part of the conversation.
The U.S. trade deficit overall soared to $948.1 billion, up 12.2 percent, in 2022.
Ramaswamy said bolstering trade will ultimately help farmers and the economy at large.
“If we are able to do that for farmers in Iowa, that means we’re doing that for the entire country as a whole,” the presidential candidate said.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.