There’s no beating around the bush from Lola Raska, the executive vice president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, as she contemplates how farmers have been hurt by policies enacted in Washington, D.C.
“No,” Raska said. “It doesn’t come close. We want to raise a good product and we want to get a fair price. Trade manipulations are not just emotionally discouraging, but definitely financially discouraging.”
Generally, the agriculture industry in Montana is hurting. Wheat and cattle prices are down, bankruptcies are up, and industry leaders worry the uncertainty will lead the next generation to turn away from family farms and ranches.
Raska said the effect of President Donald Trump’s administration’s decision to pull out of the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership has had a negative effect on Montana farmers. That’s because countries like Japan and Canada now have trade agreements that cut out American wheat growers. Also, Trump’s tariffs on imported goods from countries like China have caused them to look elsewhere for grain rather than buying high-quality Montana wheat and/or put retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.
“(The tariffs) have had a terribly depressing effect on prices,” she said. “Japan wants to